Perhaps it is owing to the fact that I am a writer. Perhaps it is owing to the truth that I am also a musician, singer/songwriter, lover of song and sound. Perhaps it is simply the richness that lands on the ear, burrows into the heart and soul, when one hears a word that moves across or through our being with such caress, such beauty, that it positively stops us. Amazing how words shape us, as though they are a chisel, carving out the form and indentations of who we are. Which words we choose to use, to utter, to carry in our pocket, speak volumes of who we are as a human being, as an individual, as a member of a collective, or class, or educational background, etc… Think about it: When we first engage with another person, the first thing we take in is their appearance, and the very next thing, is their speech…the words they use, but also, how they use them. There is a certain “coding” in the language that we adopt (or perhaps, better expressed as this: in how we choose to use our language) that identifies and categorizes us, whether we like it or not. Hence the saying: “Choose your words wisely.”
Language makes Specific. It identifies, labels, and takes an abstraction and turns it into a concrete Thing. So cool, right? And yet, simultaneously, there is also this terrific abstraction to language. “Why is a tree called a tree?” your child might ask. Or – “Why is this thing called a nest?” Good question, on both accounts. I mean, what does a bird “call” its nest? Language was first created as pictographs, and slowly, these pictographs were given words that somehow represented the image. This simple act of language – both oral and written, is something I continue to find extraordinary in its own right. That we can speak to one another, and by and large, most often, understand what each other is saying…and even more profound, we can understand what each other means. Through language, we are able to reside on the same plane, and within the same arena of expression and meaning.
For me, words are gifts. I hold them inside me like candles lighting my way, allowing me to “see” my (and others’) thoughts, memories, emotions, feelings, objects, ideas…everything. Words unlock the world and allow it to become personal, held, understood – words allow us to be here…to be present. Remember that moment in “The Miracle Worker” (the television movie about the life and experience of Helen Keller, who at the age of 2, was struck blind, deaf, and mute) when she first understood water. The word “water” was being written on her open palm in sign language as her hand was held under running water…suddenly, she was no longer locked out of “life,” she could “connect” to the world around her – AND – place herself inside of it…all because of language. Helen Keller went from being a rather monstrous being, into a curious, and swiftly intelligent human being…because language made the “invisible” visible, and the “unknowable” known.
Okay – so I want to share a word I’ve only just discovered yesterday, that sent my heart all aflutter the entire day long (and continues to do so :)) . I can’t get enough of this beauty, and I will hold onto her my life long, dancing on my tongue, for the reminder that she instructs about the essence and qualities needed for a happy life. I could not stop whispering this word to myself just to feel its sound, its give, its enormous beauty. Everything about this word moves through space weightless, in the way that you feel light and free when true joy resides in you. The word is… Eunoia (pronounced yoo-know-ee-ah), and its meaning is this: “Well Mind” or “Beautiful Thinking.” Say it out loud, listen to its sound, its Sigh, its river of breath, its softness, lightness, and how it immediately calms, like a balm. Eunoia. It is like sunshine, warming and peaceful. Eunoia is the shortest word in English that contains all 5 vowels, and it was first used in Aristotle’s book Nichomechean – Book 8, which was written for his son as a guide for living a happy and joyous life. Eunoia is said to be necessary as the basis for a happy, prosperous. and long-lived marriage; and it is also said that Eunoia is the goodwill that a speaker creates between herself and her audience.
My wish to you, my wish for all of us, is to live our lives in friendship with Eunoia – that we share it with those that we meet, those that we love, those that we struggle with; that we carry this in our hearts, and on the tips of our tongues, as a reminder that leads us to our most fulfilled and excellent lives.
Blessings to you. And Words, Words, Words…..:)