Writing is a powerful tool, at one point (a very long time ago,) it was a new technology- one often taken for granted now. No, I’m not talking about basic literacy and the ability to read and write, rather the idea of using writing to express something that just needs to be expressed. Is writing a mental outlet for everyone or just a small subset of people?
I remember a Facebook post, maybe a decade ago where I had made some nice comment about the first amendment, as it is my favorite by far. A cousin of mine, a veteran and a strong second amendment supporter, commented that he’d be glad to use his second amendment to protect my first. A nice comment, yet I had to reply, don’t you think there is reason that they put the second after the first? (I thought it obvious as he referenced the written document that protected his guns.)
The written word: what emotion or result cannot be elicited from a reader? What other tool preserves memories, communicates emotions, protects nations and brings down Kings? Oh sure, we’ve got digital methods now to do all these things and better, yet each wouldn’t have come about without the written word before them. Of course, if I go much further down this thought, it begins to fracture. How permanent is the written word (even if the paper is intact,) if say, you open a bottle with a message in another language?
Further, is it even the written word that holds this power or is the only in the reader that chooses to open those words and allows them space in their own mind? If not read, is a word worth being written? Well, for the sake of this website, I will argue yes. (As some might have guessed, I could just as easily argue the other side too!) For me, I’ll take a personal approach using myself as the specimen to be examined. Has not writing (even if not read,) improved the dexterity of my (left) arms and hand? Hmm, actually that’s all I’ve got, if it’s not read, I could type alksdh fkashdg and it would likely be just as beneficial.
Past that, words are meant to be read. In context.
Context? How much? Oh, I’ve got some ideas about this, and I’m not sure there is an answer other than: enough. Enough to convey truth. Enough so that the same idea present in the authors mind can become present in the readers mind. At first, this sounds pretty simple- yet really, as I think about this more it is obviously based on a number of assumptions. About a million of them, some I’ve discovered, some I haven’t. Such as language. I write in English and I presume other English readers can read my words. Well that sounds easy enough and it’s not, as even a single language can be broken into dialects and other social-political divisions.
What’s that mean? Well a group of young black teenagers may speak to each other in a dialect (different word choices, different words, and different word pronunciations,) that might not be easily understood by say, an elderly bunch of white ladies on their way to brunch. Same language, yet the communication might suffer. Except if they try. Eye contact and conversation between any two people (in this example, our young teenager and the elderly brunch lady) will bring their languages towards each other.
With a nod of understanding a conversation continues and with that wrinkled eyebrow look, a speaker usually knows to restate their words. Also any attentive listener will as clarifying questions if they need to, ensuring they don’t take the wrong message. Just a few days ago I had someone stop in my driveway to ask me a few questions about my antennas (cue jokes about my house looking like a porcupine.) A great discussion, yet my word choices earned a few crumpled forehead looks. A change in the level of my vocabulary and I got the head nods back. At the end of the conversation (which I though had gone very well,) the man looked at me and said “Wow, and you don’t even like me.”
My turn to wrinkle my forehead, so rather than assuming I had heard him correctly, I restated and asked “What, you think I don’t like you?” a bit shocked. “Huh? I said, you really enlightened me”. I’m glad I was dealing with a live person and could ask, rather than reading a note with bad penmanship that could not better interpreted for my understanding.
Certainly then the spoken word is superior for the exchanging of idea. Yet it has limits to, such as the number of decibels included in the sound of my voice. I can project when I need to, yet my voice- at the very best- might reach one or two hundred people, if they all crowded in close. Whatever might be said could be powerful, yet now it will be disseminated by the colloquial game of telephone. Take the other tact and your words can sent exactly as you wrote them far and wide, with no clarifications as needed.
Okay, a lot of loose thoughts there, I can almost see the point I was trying to make, yet I’m pretty sure I feel just short of effectively communicating it… oh well, I will refine it and try again tomorrow. It’s been a pretty good day. Woke up early, came downstairs, yet I just couldn’t really seem to open my eyes, so I went back to bed. Tried again with much better results an hour or two later.
Writing, at least to me, is proving itself effective. After I was up (the second time,) I read last nights post where I called myself out for a lack of discipline. Yes, I work out every day as much as I can- no I don’t, I work out every day and still sit more than I should. I could be doing a daily walk (or tri-daily walks even, for those following along since Lake Corpus Christi State Campground.) I could be doing sit-ups, pushups, and crunches ever day. I do them sometimes. Except sit-ups, those I just attempt sometimes.
Yet, reading that this morning, I had a choice. I could ignore my own words, have a regular day, then talk about something else tonight. I took the other choice. I looked at my white board and said to myself “pick three”. Then I mowed the lawn, cleaned the kitchen, and finished the second server. PRODUCTIVE and it was only three pm. What now? Well, then I decided to relax a bit and rest my legs. Of course after mowing (gladly a small yard, yet still pushing the mower around,) my legs were sore so I got down on the floor to stretch.
Before long, I was bored again and looked at the whiteboard again, too late in the day to start something now I thought.. so instead I just went for a trike ride and got in that two mile ride through downtown that I talked about the other day.
Now I’m sitting again and feeling really good about the day and happy I tried to be a little more disciplined. Let’s try again..
What I really need to do is make a “publish the book” list, and then do it. I bet I could have it done tomorrow. Lets see, I’ve got to figure out how to get an ISBN number, create my cover, them lump it all together in the software, maybe upload to amazon and of course, drop the PDF for sale on this site… We’re gonna have a book sale. (I’m actually feeling the excitement as if the mobile book store was coming into my elementary school, and I’m picking out a book or two, an eraser, maybe a Lamborghini poster?)
One last story I want to read and remember in the morning, elephant training. Do you know how they train elephants to be staked? (To be staked, is to wrap a length of twine around the Elephant’s foot and stake it to the ground, so it can’t walk away.) Well, they start young and with a very strong piece of twine. Before long, the young elephant remembers that it cannot break the twine and it stops trying. From that point on, and for the rest of the Elephant’s life, even as a six ton beast, it can be staked in place with a bit of ordinary twine and the elephants own good memory.
Over the last seventeen months, I’ve had to relearn what I can do and what I can’t do. I do not want to remember this list, I need to forget it all. There are things I can do today that I could not do easily a week ago, that I couldn’t do at all a month ago.
I want to stop trying to not fall down. I’m young (don’t laugh, relatively I’m young,) and not frail. I won’t break if I hit the ground (not feeling it,) I won’t break if I hit the ground (one more time,) I will not break if I hit the ground. Hell, I’ve been professionally trained on how to hit the ground, and I have trained others how to hit the ground – and dammit, that last time I hit the ground, I did a damn good job of it too (best PLF of my life, hands down.) I even walked away from it.. five months later.
I need to reset my whole mind. I need to wake up tomorrow and forget the last year, I need to walk confidently forward with every step, not timidly trying to avoid the pain- what pain? Pain? you mean that sensation that reminds me of the spots I still need to massage? Tomorrow will be a new day. Tomorrow I am going to forget what I can’t do. Twine can’t hold me back, there is no twine.
Time to rest.