I guess I have always loved words. I loved them when my mother read the same stories over and over to me when I was a child. Honestly since elementary school I planned to be a “writer.” From adolescence I began taking my deepest feelings and pouring them out in poetry. I have kept journals at many points in my life. During some of my most difficult years I remember sitting at my kitchen table late into the night and just pouring my thoughts out. Talking to myself, trying to figure things out. When I go back and read some of these, they are totally mortifying, and I hope nobody else ever reads them! And yet I don’t discard them. They are my history. And if they are humbling sometimes, it is because they show me that I just don’t always have the handle on truth and understanding that I think I do.
My love for words is not only in writing them, but in reading them, or listening to them. Words in music are particularly powerful. Honestly, they can just bring me to my knees and wrench things from my heart. They are just SO powerful.
Lately, though, I have become aware not only of my love for the use of words, but my love for words themselves. Awhile back I published some lyrics from Anna Nalick’s “Breathe”:
2 am and I’m still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer inside of me
Threatening the life it belongs to
Many times I have been there, in the middle of the night with so much pain inside me that I just have to get it out, and writing it down does that somehow. I see this in my youngest daughter as well, and I know that this is the sign of an artist’s heart. In the middle of the night, she writes lyrics that nobody ever sees, seeking for them chords on the keyboard.
Recently my daughter gave me a Coheed and Cambria album to listen to, and there is a song on it that just grabbed me. It is “The Glass and the Light,” and it begins:
Slowly the pen touches paper
In the guidance of the words that you write
Memories roll in of the things you once did
And who you had shared them with
Is somebody thinking of you?
Why do these lyrics squeeze my heart? That is the magic of the best of words, that you don’t really know, that it just pulls out something from the depths, something that is beyond being captured by thought. Doesn’t make sense, I know, but it’s true.
This morning I’m going to go to the gym for awhile. Then I’m going to come home, and spend some time my fictional characters, who have become a vehicle for releasing those feelings that arise seemingly from nowhere within me. They are symbols. They are my release valve. They are pieces of my heart.
People live and people die. Then what is left of them? I have in my possession everything that my mother ever owned. It has enough sentimental value that I haven’t really been able to let go of it. But she left behind no writings. Her thoughts, her heart, are not contained in the things. When I am gone, for better or for worse there will be lots of pieces of my mind and heart left behind. That too is the part of the power of words. Words are immortal.
Write them down.