On the dangers of words and the necessity of pauses



“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” ~ Mark Twain

After having written so much and so frequently, tonight I am here to say that words are dangerous, slippery things. At crucial moments in life, we search desperately for ways to express our thoughts and feelings, and to interpret what we are given by another. But we are not listening or speaking clearly, because we’re dueling with fear. And we panic.

When we need them most, words often fail us. There are too few or too many…we end up inventing or else losing stories. We become even more frightened as we realize it. So we try harder. And you know what happens when you struggle in quicksand…

What we release we can not take back. What we fail to express remains unheard and unseen. It’s shocking sometimes to look back and see such different words in the words we thought we used well. And it is no joke that a whole life can collapse because of illusions, while true meaning, if it could have somehow been made visible, would have brought light not ruin.

On many occasions over the last months, I have come here as if to an altar…with my writing to offer a confession, a blessing…to heal, to inspire, to bring some light. I have come to kneel and let the soul speak, and yet, even here, there is no immunity from pride and self-righteousness. Against true intent, the words took over and sometimes created judgment…sharp edges. I walked away with a heavy victory instead of a light heart. And even though it feels like I have left some beautiful images in my path, I have also, without intending to, left some thorns as well. Because I too have been dueling with fear instead of just writing.

Only time brings clarity and allows us to be calm enough to step back and consider our words. Unfortunately, we don’t usually have the luxury of waiting as would be necessary each time we have something important to give and receive.

For one who sincerely wishes for only the best and fastest solutions, who prioritizes love and tenderness above all else,  and who also underestimated the danger of words…coming out and saying we should all make it a habit to step back and pause for a bit in situations where words seem too urgently needed is not easy. But I have been wrong enough times in my rushing to fix, to understand, to explain.

So yes, we must pause for a bit. If we rush, our words might strike well and make a point, but at what cost? I find the price of a moment of satisfaction or apparent justice is too high against the value of our genuine feelings which get pushed back and may never have a chance to be witnessed as they truly are.

Truth is never found in a knee-jerk reaction, however clever or well delivered. And I am all for being totally open and honest. But if a dam breaks, everyone drowns. And if not enough water flows, everyone dies of thirst.

We have many words…and must use them. With passion of course. But we can not forget about the pauses between them. We must allow them to be deep and gentle.

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