It comes as no surprise, I’m sure, that I love words. Big ones, little ones, even foreign ones. As a child, I often curled up in a comfy chair with a thick dictionary on my lap. For hours, I’d browse, making note of especially intriguing words, such as ubiquitous and sanguine. I’d giggle over funny-sounding entries — ballyhoo was a favorite — and I’d puzzle over tricky words like hirsute and sartorial.
Words were my toys, and I spent hours enjoying them. I still do.
Carl Jung said,
“The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.”
Words can provide hours of pleasure. But words, I’ve come to see, have far more power than the simple knowledge they impart. Words have power enough to move people, to inspire action, to encourage — or to do exactly the opposite. Words can be used for good; they can also be misused.
An old childhood adage says “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” Physically, words don’t hurt, but emotionally they can wound others. Hateful words can cause severe pain.
Recently, a number of different “Word Games” have been circulating on Facebook and through other social media outlets. Here’s one version:
I’m not sure how reliable this little word game is…I don’t, for example, think of myself as naive, peaceful, sweet, or elegant, but do we ever see ourselves as we truly are? Nah, I don’t put much stock in these little gizmos.
I do, however, recognize the importance of choosing the right words, not only in writing, but in every aspect of life. Especially in dealing with others, we need to choose our words with care.
As we begin moving through this New Year, let’s choose words that uplift, words that empower others, words that help others achieve their dreams.