Friday, March 09, 2012

Words Matter Week 2012


Leave it to me to discover a week long event on the evening of its last day.  This is a yearly event for bloggers held the first full week of March each year.  Each day M-F a prompt is presented and anyone wishing to write on its theme may and then link back to the hub blog.  There are prizes too.

This year the prompts were:

Monday:  Writers craft words into memorable phrases, stories, poems and plays.  What writers make your heart sing?  Why?

Gabrielle Garcia Marquez because his stories are like waking dreams that seem to arise out of my own dreams or maybe it is truer to say that my dreams rise up to greet his stories as long lost companions.

Maya Angelou because her poems and stories are the fruit cultivated in the soil of pain and despair fertilized with hope and courage.  Her words teach me the meaning of 'overcome'.

Flannery O'Conner because her stories confront me with the damaged aspects of my psyche and their propensity to commit terrible acts of violence against the spirit and body of self and other.  Forewarned is forearmed so many such acts can be avoided but her stories also speak of the power and hope in redemption for those occasions when failure to heed the warning leads to the inevitable gross acts of unkindness towards ones self and those lives interacting with our own.

Tuesday:  What word, said or unsaid, has or could change your life?  How?

Forgive.  Because whether it is I who has offended another or they who have offended me, the word forgive spoken from the heart has the power to mend fractured relationships and strengthen the fabric of family and community.  We all offend in many large and small ways every day and without the ability to forgive others and ourselves and to accept the forgiveness of others the weight of guilt, shame, resentment  and anger would crush out souls and smother our sanity.  Living with the habit of forgiveness makes living in joy and harmony possible.

Wednesday:  Communication breaks down when words are misused.  What is the funniest or worst breakdown you’ve ever observed?

The words were misheard rather than misused but just this evening I thought my mom asked me to turn the light out here in her bedroom and in a bit of a shocked tone I told her the light was already out and was about ask if she really couldn't tell as I wondered if this was what she meant when she complained the last few days that her eyes were going fast.

But before I could voice my jumbled thoughts she spoke again, enunciating carefully with her dentureless mouth through the apnea machine mask, saying that she meant it was OK for me to turn the light back on if I needed to while I cleared off my side of the bed.

That may not be the funniest instance I've ever observed just the most recent.

There have been a number of challenges to communication with my mom in the years since her stroke what with her issues with mild aphasia and both hers and my hearing loss and vision loss.  Some have been as amusing as this one.  Some not so much.

Thursday:  What Person in your life helped you understand the importance of choosing words carefully?  What would you say to them if you met them today?
My great aunt who had been a teacher and a teacher of teachers in her day once caught me with a thesaurus at the tender age of thirteen and she was dismayed.  She said one didn't have the right to use words one found in such lists of synonyms without knowing them already.  She stressed that it wasn't safe to just plug in any word in the entry as there were subtle and not so subtle differences in meaning and it was the writer's responsibility to know those subtleties and select the word best suited to the thought they are trying to convey.

I am totally paraphrasing as her actual words are vague in my memory.  Still vivid tho is her disapproval.  And even though I didn't really get all the subtleties of her points then it primed me for later understanding.  And over the several years she had left to influence my life she took every chance to share her love of words with me.  Playing Scrabble was one such way.  But she also introduced me to crossword puzzles and the stories of individual words in their etymology and history of use.

If she and I could speak today I'd tell her thank you, many thanks, much obliged, so appreciated, I'm so grateful, gramercy, thankee,  thank you kindly, merci, merci beaucoup, danke, danke schon, gracias, grazie, spasibo Auntie Rie.

Friday:  If you had to eliminate one word or phrase from the English language, what would it be?  Why?

Indifference.  Because, assuming as Orwell did in his novel 1984 that elimination of the word eliminates that which it references,  then indifference itself would be history.  And it is my belief that indifference is the root of all evil not the love of money.  For indifference is the polar opposite of love and passion.  It is worse than hate in that it cannot be moved and while hate is to be eschewed its presence bespeaks the capacity of its bearer for passion and thus also for compassion.  While indifference stands by as vile acts are perpetrated upon the innocent, weak and vulnerable, making no effort to alleviate distress since the distress of others cannot touch one who can't be stirred to care.

1 tell me a story:

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