A Sojourn In Words


It is 2:30AM and I cannot sleep ~ again. Sitting in my window looking south. An occasional car passes, but mainly I see the lights of the city. Centered in the window of my “Eagle’s Nest” (so dubbed by my neighbors) are the green lights of one building in particular. It sits on the corner of Main and 2nd streets a few blocks from the post office. The green lights frame the pyramidal roof, crowned by two red lights at the peak.

This is my home, it speaks to me and calls my name. The first time I stood here with the realtor waiting on a friend of mine (I always want a second opinion) it spoke to me then. I have never felt so “at home” before. I will not spend the rest of my life here, I cannot, I am a wanderer and a seeker. Even as I live here now I continue to go forth. Sometimes I travel a few blocks, sometimes a few states, or even to another country. No matter where I wander I am always seeking. Sometimes I am seeking even before I know the question. I have the curiosity of a child (and the impudence of one too).

Children are curious about everything. Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? Why is water wet? Some people say children are simple ,I prefer wise. When they speak they are always direct, to the point, and short. “Daddy stay.” “I am hungry.” “I love you.” “I am tired.”

We clutter speech.

“Boy – I had a rough day. The traffic lights were out on the way to work, and I was almost late. Two people called in sick and the boss dumped their work on me. Then on the way home there was an accident on I-135. I’m tired.”

There it is, “I’m tired.” All those words, all that time. Five sentences, forty-seven words – why? A child would have simply said, “I am tired.”

On one of my sojourns I met a linguist. In thirty minutes over coffee I learned more about language than I had learned in thirty years. Linguists can compare two languages and by the common speech patterns know which language is older. The older language is shorter, more direct, and not so cluttered with extra words. Russian and Chinese are two of the oldest languages on earth that are still spoken. English is one of the younger languages. (Maybe children are even wiser than I thought.)

I like language, I like words. In ancient times people believed if you knew the one true name of a god you could control that god. Words have power and each word is unique. Adventurers and pilgrims are both travelers, and yet they convey a different meaning, they produce a different mental image for us.

I know some Spanish and a few words in several other languages. Though my native tongue is English. English isn’t just English words, no we borrow words from many languages. I like English I find it so expressive. Why just for the word traveler there are dozens of synonyms, adventurer and pilgrim being just two. Yet with all the variety of English we have only one word for the most powerful word of all – love.

Love is an intangible like liberty. You cannot detect love with your five senses, only the evidence of love. Love is one of only two intangibles for which people will sacrifice their life and all they hold dear (liberty being the other). One word – that’s it – just one word. We love our pets, our children, our parents, our relatives, our friends. All of those are different kinds of love, but still just one word. Our children we are willing to protect at all costs. We nurture them, teach them, we revel in their very essence. When they come home from school and explain to us the sun is a star, we listen as if they are teaching us something we never knew.

Then there is the love we have for a lover. This is the love where we are at our most vulnerable. Then, if we are truly lucky, we experience a love that marks our very soul. It changes you – from the inside, and you are never the same again. That is a love that never dies. If that person dies or you get a divorce or breakup, they are still a part of you. The love you shared marked your soul, it changed you. And though separated by time and space they will always be a part of you.

People talk about the power and the strength of steel and granite. But it pales in comparison with the strength and power of love. Look into the eyes of your own child. Do you feel that within your breast? See how your child looks at you? There is nothing as powerful as love.

Yet, just one word. From pizza to life altering and soul touching we have just one word. Yet if a god, as powerful as a god is, has only one true name shouldn’t the most powerful force of all have just one word?

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2 responses to “A Sojourn In Words

  1. Sabrina

    Loved it, Joe.