Maybe It’s Not the Words

by Anne Beaufort

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Words vanish before ink dries or mind holds. Words can be misleading, misconstrued, misheard. Words float, like clouds. They vaporize, change color, float off, obscure, cast shadows. Words slide, like ooze. Words lie. Words bury. Words dig graves. Words curse, words scar. They sear, like hot oil, sizzling in the cast iron skillet. Does one ever forget the stinging criticism? Or hear the antidote– “I love you”– enough?

On the other hand, words hold mystery, music, delight, intimations, beauty, connections felt, not said. “Four score and seventy years ago.” “In the beginning was the word.” “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” “I have a dream.” “Yes we can.” “Peace be with you.” “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” “To be or not to be.” “I think, therefore I am.” “To see a world in a grain of sand.”

Maybe it’s not the words but the act of finding the words that counts. Maybe, in finding words, what is found is thought, and with thought, mind, and with mind, being. Maybe words are the mask we wear until, without masks, we feel, we know, we are.