Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Five for Five: Words

From the day I strung my first sentence together, it seems as though I have never been at a loss for words.  It was the words of the countless books I read as a child that kept me from going mad within my desperate surroundings.  It was the enchanting tales of other children, stuck in situations far worse than my parents’ unhappy marriage, that allowed me to dream that everyone deserved some happiness in their lifetime.  Some got their happiness in steady drips throughout their lives; other got a jolt of it in the later half. 

As I got older, words- lots of words, kept my mind busy.  It helped drown out the vicious voice of my ever critical subconscious forever chastising me.  If my words made you laugh, your laughter soothed me.  If I made you laugh, I couldn't be all that bad.

I know that the ability to communicate is an incredible gift.  But in my life, there have been times when words have been inadequate, at best.  Walking down the aisle and seeing my smiling groom waiting for me.  Finding out I was pregnant.  Seeing a tiny blip that was my unborn child's heart.  Seeing my firstborn son for the first time.  Witnessing my father passing from this Earth.  Finding out I was pregnant a second time. Seeing my second son for the first time. Finding out I was pregnant a third time.  Seeing my precious last baby's face for the first time.  

The list is endless...

How can you put into words the emotions that threaten to pull you under, both in good and bad ways?  In that raging sea of emotions, words are like flotation devices; they help keep you above water, but they will not swim you to shore.

But what good are words if they are mindless sounds that escape bodies, with no real purpose?  What happens when there is no feeling, no meaning behind them?  What is the point?  Yet, I have been responsible for more noise pollution than I am comfortable to admit.  I am not proud of myself.

Perhaps it was having children, but I began to look forward to the brief instances when there was a bit of quiet in the house.  Granted, too much silence (is there such a thing if you are a parent?) would put me in panic mode.  Surely, anyone who has a child knows that too much quiet usually means a hurt child, a super-clogged, overflowing toilet, or an unauthorized masterpiece on pristine walls. 

Still, silence amongst adults was incredibly uncomfortable. 

And then, a gift.  I was assigned a single classroom to myself.  No teaching partner to share the space.  Planning time with no one in the room with me.  I was forced into quieting myself.  I learned to cope.  I used the time to acclimate myself to just being. 

It became a spiritual exercise, and one that would come in handy.  Observing.  Listening.  To listen to my own heart.  To trust myself with my own decisions.  To finally become comfortable within my own skin.

I had finally found the silent Ying to my loquacious Yang.

And, in that silence, I finally found my voice.

I found that words are powerful.  You don't forget the throb when someone's words cut through your soul like a knife, so I choose my words cautiously.

You don't forget the delight when someone makes mention of something you have done with no intention of recognition, so I make a point of reminding people of the good within them.

You don't forget the joy you feel when you hear "I love you" from those you hold dear, so I make sure I say those words as often as I can, while I can.

And in the meantime, I listen.

And the words will come, as they always do. 


  1. Oh, the noise poisoning. It can drive you mad, can't it? And yet the beauty of a well-said word can mean the world.

  2. Maybe because I grew up an only child but I've always craved the silence. I love my girls but I do cherish the hours when they're in bed, when the house is quiet again, and I can finally listen to the one person I've been ignoring all day: me.

  3. I think we all find our voices in silence. It's scary and bewildering, but allows truth. Lovely piece.

  4. Little inside joke here: Not to be super off topic here, but after a whole day with no special areas, PE, and being alone in a classroom, the last thing I found today was quiet and peace! LOL

  5. I can so relate to this...it surely took me a while to find peace in the silence and learn to rest there as I listened for my own voice. Funny how many of these posts today have been about using words... it's wonderful that your heart reminds us that words are there to be listened to as well!

  6. "You don't forget the delight when someone makes mention of something you have done with no intention of recognition..."

    Yes. There is something beautiful about the surprise words of recognition. I love the look on someone's face when words really fill their hearts.

  7. Yes to the power of words and oh my, yes to the search for quiet.

    (I'm working on this. A lot.)

  8. I want to find this quiet! I am always so impressed by those who can still the inner voices and just listen, just think, just act without the raging cacophony inside. I want to settle and just be as you've learned to do.

  9. Silence truly is a gift. If we let it. It really does allow us to find our voice, doesn't it? I finally quieted myself. Just enough last year to be able to experience this. I'm so grateful. And my words have different meaning now.

  10. Words are so powerful...both good and bad. It took me many years to realize that and I vowed to never use my words with the intent to hurt. Sometimes I slip. But at least now I recognize it!

  11. I think the silence more often offers us more than noise. In the silent moments, I've found the purest of epiphanies.


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