I fell in love with him because of his voice.
It seemed to sit on air like velvet. And the moment it touched my skin, I would melt. A deep rumble of undulating rhythms that always went down my spine. I was a different person around him. I was putty in his hands.
But more than his voice, it was his words.
The syllables that tumbled out of his sweet mouth, falling over each other. The letters that formed words. He made love to each, with his deep voice. I could listen to him all day.
But my journey with words did not begin with him. It began in a house. A pan bricked house in a farming village not far from the centre of the earth.
When the skies were bluer than blue and the grass sang beneath the feet, I was the girl who thought words could save lives. That words could change the world.
There were no dolls at my house when I was growing up. We could not afford them. So I spent most of my time frolicking with pencils and blank pages. I imagined the world at the tip of my pencil, and when it touched the page, bliss was my home. I found freedom. I found solace and hope for my small, tender heart. The page could take me. It could hold me. All of me. There was no getting to know one another better first. We went right into the thick of it all. I didn’t have to explain why my eyes were big and round with wonder. Or why my heart felt like God had poured a thousand other souls into it. To hold and to carry. These were mysteries the page was willing to accept. The page said, welcome home darling, welcome home.
And so I scribbled all over. My letters, small and unpractised, but alive and breathing, tracing canvases of paths only hearts could follow. Words etched onto paper became my first love. I learned respect for them. Even as a five year old, I knew that words written could not be unwritten. If you used a pencil, you could erase them, but there were always those marks that remained. The ones you could eloquently trace through again, the words indented into the page. If you used a pen, you could only scratch the words by crossing them out with your ink. That was usually messy.
As I grew older, I learned that spoken words were like that too. Often they could not be taken back into your mouth. Your tongue could not take what had been uttered back into its fold.
I learned that words were powerful beyond my wildest imagination. People used them to win votes, to persuade others, to incite hate, to break hearts, to soothe a bleeding soul, to build another being, to encourage, to show love. I had been wielding a weapon right in the palm of my hands and I had not known it.
Words are powerful.
We know this and yet I don’t believe we truly understand it. Words can pierce the soul of another human being. And they can cut. They are spiritual even as they are physical. Tactile and visceral. We dish them out in the manner they sit within us. They reveal the things that brew internally. They mirror the secret corners of our minds.
Words…whether we hear them verbally or in our heads, shape the humans we are. And the humans we become. There is still time to be beautiful with our words. To love others with them. To offer grace and receive it in return. Let’s start with the simplest:
I will listen
Maybe words have not been all that important to you but realise that they are an indispensable element of what makes this world what it is. At the core of some of the mess and misunderstanding that reins in our street corners and houses; behind some of the anger and pain, and even sitting at the centre of some of the beauty and hope, are words spoken and those withheld. I hope we understand that one day.
As for me, I want to lie naked with my words. I want to live with them. Open them up, a treasure chest. I want to dine with them, complete with elegance and checked table cloths. I want to make love to words. Everyday of my life. Because words…words can save lives. They saved mine.