My entire life has been spent fascinated by words. The written word has been, to me, one of the purest forms of art. Fundamental and complex all at once, the written word can simply communicate but it can also paint, sing, sculpt and destroy. Words can dance or they can stare you down, daring you to engage them. Words are the foundation of society. Words are culture.
I have marveled at the possibilities within words. To take words, as ubiquitous as they are and mundane as they can be, and assemble them in a way that has never been done before is a miracle. To express perfectly a thought is a masterpiece. To accurately convey emotion, raw and stripped down, is beauty itself.
I believe that the highest honor you can bestow upon another person is to share yourself completely and it is only through words that this is possible.
As a writer, I surround myself with words. I will run alongside them, trying to drive them toward my purpose without being restrictive. I will walk with them to see where they may go. I will sit and listen to them. I will spy on them.
As a person, I am constantly considering my words. I try to be verbally vigilant in my use of words. I work hard to express exactly my thoughts. We have at our disposal an endless number of ways to share our approvals and frustrations, needs and longings, and every one of them imparts a slightly different perspective. If I want to be truly heard then the onus is on me and me alone.
As a dad, I thought I would find myself in the position of being a teacher of words. What I came to realize, though, is that that is not entirely accurate. In my daughters, the words just happen. They absorb the words that surround them and simply regurgitate that which they are being fed.
What I am is a teacher of communication. And what I understand now is that for all of my obsession with words themselves, it is communication that matters. Words are simply the means to the end of expression.
So, again I have been taught a lesson in the classroom of fatherhood. I hear often my three year old using words like ‘considerate’, ‘compassionate’ and ‘acceptable’. Sometimes she even uses them correctly, but the words mean very little if the idea behind them has not been communicated. Without embodiment they are just empty syllables. And if I am not embodying them then I am just an empty, multisyllabic imposter.
As a writer, a person and a father I am a communicator first. I may wield a hefty vocabulary in each of those roles but I know now that those words amount to nothing if there is nothing behind them. They are only a vehicle and without a thoughtfully considered destination that vehicle is useless.
Reflecting on it all (which is really the point), I understand that I am not fascinated with words as much as I am fascinated by what can be accomplished with words. Words are the paint brush, not the art. The instrument, not the music. The window, not the soul itself.
Then again, maybe I am looking too deeply into it all. My daughter is right – the word ‘poop’ is pretty funny.