On Words

I remember being very little. The world was colorful and brimming with wonder. Everywhere I turned, the incredible hid from people. I was privy to a secret joke. 

I remember the day I used a word for the first time.  Sure I had repeated sounds to amuse my family.  But, when I realized the sounds possessed meaning, I was sad. But there was a day when I stopped swinging my sword around and wielded it.  I remember the first sentence I read.  My mom had written the words "I love you" on a piece of paper. She wanted me to read the words aloud. I knew what she wanted.  And I knew why.  I knew I could say it and what it meant.   I remember feeling uncomfortable and not wanting to.  I did not understand what love meant so I did not want to say it out loud.  I said it out loud to my mother's delight. I was happy too; but I was also frustrated because the words were not good enough.  

 I thought words were silly and insufficient to capture anything. "Cereal" was such an odd collection of sounds to represent the crunch and squish of the colorful cool sweetness that made me smile even though my tummy hurt.  

There was so much meaning all around me. I distinctly remember the feeling of frustration that the words were not good enough for the meaning that was everywhere.  Color and light and magic could not be captured in such mundane letters as I was given as a child.  

I spent the lonely moments of my satisfied childhood searching for better words. The ones that would be a portal back to that beautiful time before language dropped a veil between me and the world I knew existed.  

In truth, I have never stopped searching for those portal words.  The ones that would take me back to the knowledge that language can't occupy. It's a fool's pursuit,  but then so is adulthood. 

There is something very precious about a child that does not yet have words. 

Do not rush them to speak.  Do not be impatient for them to give up the longing and curiosity that comes with not knowing.  

Often, and certainly in my family, people outgrow language eventually. Some return to a mind free of such burdens,  and while the journey is hard and confusing,  eventually there is peace in not having to know anymore. I take the smallest degree of solace in that hope.


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