As a writer, and a human being, I am duty bound to say that words are the most powerful tools we have. From our own words, to those of world governments and spiritual leaders, to the sign over the urinal that says “Don’t eat the big white mint!” words are constantly changing our lives and the lives of those around us.
Precisely how these words change our lives is often a matter of context. Prison is probably not the right place for the words “I love you”, for example. “Make it quick” is not always what you want to hear from the woman you’re lying next to, and a cute little stuffed chimp with the words “She meant nothing to me” emblazoned on his adorable little t-shirt would probably not sell as well as the more common flame-retardant, hypo-allergenic messengers that adorn the shelves of Hallmark shops in the high street.
My problem with words has too often taken the form of the little devil on my shoulder, who whispers to me that the wrong thing to say is sometimes just plain funnier.
I once crashed my car after falling asleep at the wheel, and, as I stood at the side of the road exchanging insurance information with the poor man whose car I had just bent, he told me just how much driving frightened him. Now… no-one had been hurt (we had only been travelling at about 15 mph), we weren’t holding up traffic and it was a nice sunny day, but I knew the right things to say: “Don’t worry, it was my fault”, “You shouldn’t let this one little incident put you off driving”…and so on. But no, what I actually said to this poor innocent guy was “You should close your eyes. That’s what I do when I’m frightened.”
For all I knew, that poor man had saved years to afford that car. Maybe it was his pride and joy. Perhaps it belonged to his wife, or his sick grandmother. I don’t know, but I was a teenager and have since grown up. The point is, I was very lucky to get away with a monumentally stupid statement, which just seemed funny to me at the time.
My sister has always been better with that sort of thing, and nowadays makes her living from poetry. Anyone who has tried this knows that poetry is a very, very difficult way to make a living, and you’re certainly not going to spend a lot of time ordering champagne up to your penthouse apartment if this is the life you choose. But, it has taken her to some wonderful places, she has met many people she would perhaps never otherwise have encountered, and is now entering a completely new phase of her life, mostly due to persistence and well written words.
My most recent life-changing story began right here on WordPress just over a year ago, when a desire to share my words with others led me to the blog of another WP newcomer whose words impressed me to say the least. We were simply friends in the beginning, but our relationship became more and more complicated until we could no longer avoid the realisation that one very big word kept creeping into our thoughts. Over the course of the last 10 months we have said more words to each-other than most couples say in 10 years, because in the beginning they were all we had. Nowadays of course, as any regular reader will know, I spend more time in her country than I do in my own, and just 2 nights ago we came to the conclusion that our relationship has been so strange and surreal, so complicated and exciting, and has taken us to so many wonderful places… there would be absolutely no way at all to explain where we are, or how far we have come, to anyone on the outside looking in, and perhaps we should not try.
So where is this seemingly endless discourse taking us? Well, I’ll tell you…
A little over three weeks ago, on a beautifully still evening in Sweden, I decided the time had come to utter four of the most life-altering words I can think of. The lady in question responded with the single word answer I was hoping for, and, as a result, I am to become Mr. The Swedish Flowerpot to her Mrs. Sleepless Knight.
So, after hundreds of thousands of words, exchanged on facebook, Messenger, Skype, telephone, and in person, there is to be a WordPress wedding in the not-too-distant future. Allie Brosh, of Hyperbole and a half, had a small part to play in the two of us getting together… Heather, of Prawn & Quartered, might finally get to wear that bridesmaids dress… Kitty, of An Inquisitive Kat, will almost certainly have to remind me of my own name, as my nerves get the better of me on the big day, and somewhere in Canada, two more bloggers will shake their heads and wonder what the hell that beautiful Swede was thinking when she agreed to this.
Keep on blogging, WordPress bloggers. You never know where your next few words will take you, or who they might affect.
My next blog post may well expand on the theme of words. In the meantime, I would be grateful for your stories about where well chosen or misspoken words have taken you in your life. Leave a comment, or, if you feel really brave, write your own blog post about words and link it to me. I would love to hear what you have to say.