A poem that I wrote today. You can tell I'm in an experimental modernisms class no?
Faces in a writhing crowd,
Crowded mass of unfamiliar people.
People I don't know, or knew,
Now wondering what went wayward.
Weird, that I cannot seem to say,
"See you me? See that I will not say how
"Hard it is to see you here."
Heart is neither fair nor foul
Foul needs fair, and the turning of the World
Worries me, I cannot find my place.
Placate me with the knowing that
This was not all there is to be.
Belabor the idea that we loved,
Living on now it was no dream
Draining what I hope to feel.
For truth, I will love again
Against all; find me in another
As you will be found in another.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
An essay I wrote about language. Why is it so hard to say the things we want to say?
Words Fall Through Me
I sit here, grasping at words that dance behind my throat. My head is full of things I want to say, things I need to say but nothing comes out. They are caught behind my tongue, the flood held back by my own fear. She looks at me, her eyes saying everything. I know that she understands what I’m not telling her, but that’s not enough. My tongue stands still; my mouth will not form the words I so desperately desire. Words fall through me like a pitcher with no bottom: a few simple syllables I simply can’t pronounce.
My first lessons in language were simple. This is a picture of a ball. B-A-L-L. Say ball. This is a ball. Rote memorization of the formation of sounds; the endless repetition of subtle machinations of the mouth. As I progressed, I learned sentence structure. I mastered the ability to form coherent statements. Grammar was no trouble. Despite my successes, I soon came to the root of the problem.
I finally begin to speak, but nothing I need to say. Small talk really, sentences that fall from the mouth like a dripping faucet no one bothered to fix. Yeah, like for sure, I, umm. I just thought, umm you’d maybe want to. I dunno, we could go there, if you wanted. But it’s whatever you wanna do. My words are only here to avoid the truth. My emotions lie just behind my teeth, waiting anxiously to rush forth like a dam being split apart. I am afraid because my words will reflect who I am, someone I don’t know.
I learned why we are afraid of language: language is a reflection of ourselves. When we communicate, we form ourselves in the words we choose and the words we leave out. What we say, how we say it, who we say it to, when we say it, why we say it; it’s as though we dip into a pool that reflects us as we are in that moment. The catch is whether we can accept that picture or not. It takes a strong person to bare themselves to the world.
My next lessons in language were more complex. I had mastered the gradations of grammar, the semantics of sentence structure, the workings of wording. The English language was now effortless to me, but how I was to use it was not as simple. I realized that not everyone shared my propensity for communication. Nerd. Loser. Geek. Idiot. Know-it-all. Smartass. The more I spoke the more I was attacked. I became a target because of my words. This lesson taught me language can cut, language can be misused; it also taught me to block my words out of fear.
I stumble through another few sentences, a poor attempt to allay the coming admonitions. How’s your family doing? Yeah, my dad’s been pretty busy lately too. I know what I need to say but I refuse, desperate to avoid the potential disaster. I can’t bear the thought of rebuke, of the high likelihood of learning that I was wrong the whole time. Hope blossoms in my chest just long enough to be scythed by reality.
I continued to grow in my knowledge of communication. My vocabulary had increased exponentially, a veritable thesaurus swimming around inside my head. I reconciled my fears, learning only to speak when I must, and only as much or as intelligently as I must. Even with my newfound comprehension, I found more flaws in language.
H-hey, you’re really pretty.
Thanks John, you’re so sweet! We should hang out more!
Yeah? Maybe we could go on a date sometime!
Well umm, I’m pretty busy and I have a lot of homework.
But it’s the summer.
Yeah, I’ll have to think about it..
I did not have the intuition of what to say. I shut down, closing off myself to those around me. I knew how to say everything, but I chose not to say anything.
I learned why we neglect to use language: language is an act of faith. When we speak we are diving into a pool of doubt. Humans are taught never to leap, never to take the chance to fly. Safety has become our primary concern. Countless years of evolution have rooted us to the ground; only the few are able to take the plunge into the unknown. What do they find? Self-discovery? An awakened sense of the universe? I dreamt of becoming one of the few, but never dared to try.
She looks at me deliberately, eyes speaking with her heart. Just say it, she says. I find my courage to speak. I bare myself. I take the plunge. The words spill forth, a river of truth. My soul has been slipped through my teeth and out into the world, and I find that I don’t worry what happens to it. A weight has been lifted; my body is at peace again. I wait anxiously for the response.
I learned why we decide to use language: language sets us free. When we use language the way it’s meant to be, we learn to fly. Language is a medium for expression, escape, independence. We speak our mind to show that the world has lost its power over us and we are the stronger. Our words revel in their freedom, and we revel with them. Language is no longer a barrier, it becomes life.
I watch her as she hears the words I speak, as the truth envelops her, wraps around her like a blanket. She smiles, her beaming face telling me everything I need to know before she opens her mouth. The smile spreads to me, hope replacing cold fear. My eyes say the words that are now caught in my throat, a lump of joy blocking the flood.
I learned why we come to embrace language: language is the foundation of love.