A Discovery Of Locution

Photo by Marcus dePaula on Unsplash.com

Words are hard. That’s it, that’s all I wanted to say so, good night.

I should probably write more than fourteen words, right? Oo, look at that, I’m at twenty-three…No Thirty. Can I just fill up this entire post with a running word count? Has anyone done that? If so: ballsy. Has anyone read that post all the way to the end? If you have, good on ya. What a legend!

Or, was it pity? It was a pity read, wasn’t it? Wow, you have a kind heart or were exceptionally bored. Either way, you’re still a legend.

Writing nothing but a ten-page word count is impressive. Not as impressive as say, the first person to perform an organ transplant, or strap their hindquarters to a rocket and go for a ride. That reaches a monumental level of intensity that’s hard to surpass. You did what, now? Nice!

As a writer, or someone who dabbles, one of my greatest fears is sitting down to write and discovering that the words I love have vanished. That heartbreaking moment when locution fails me and I start writing numbers with a delusional hope that no one will notice. Accepting a pity read because it’s better than no one reading it at all. 

One hundred and sixty-eight.

Words are hard and some days they’re harder to find than others. Is today that day? One hundred and eighty-nine. Uh…

These little nuggets of gold-encrusted chocolate are hiding deep down inside a dark mine. Flecks shimmer in the light from my torch. Hints of what lies within the depth of these jagged cliffs offer a fleeting glimpse of a treasure that’s just out of reach. I follow their lead and venture further into the unexplored caverns.

Somewhere in here, hiding in the shadows and buried deep under the untapped bedrock, lies the sweetest gems. They’re waiting to be discovered. They’re calling out, begging to be found, and all I have to do is…How’s that word count coming?

Anyone who writes for a living, or for fun, has ventured down into those lexeme caves with a pickaxe and a pound of TNT. The same explosives the Road Runner used to outsmart the Coyote. Big red sticks, a long wick sticking out the top, and a boldly printed ACME stamped on one side. It’s an oldie but a goody.

We go down into those caves, and we use every trick in the book. Blood, sweat, a bucket of tears to splash over the burning fuse. Safety first kids! All that effort, only to emerge from the darkness with scraps instead of treasure. Worse than that, we’ve found a bounty of fools gold. Sure, we can sell it to the tourists, but it’s pennies to the dollar.

The real gold nuggets of gooey chocolate? Where, oh where, could they be?

Words fail me and my mind goes blank. I stare at the computer screen; my fingers hover over the keys, but nothing comes. Not a thought or an image. There are no ideas or musings. My fingers flex in anticipation, ready and willing to transcribe my, um, genius (?) but I’m mentally constipated.

I apologize for that deeply disturbing image.

I draw my words from life but, right now, life is stagnated. I spent most of last month at home, sick. I’m spending a good part of this month recovering. It wasn’t anything too serious. My blood work came back normal and my doctors say that I’ll return to full strength soon enough. I just have to take it a bit easy and let my body heal in its own time. Which, annoyingly, is slower than a snail on a dried-out slip and slide. 

These mild symptoms are irritating, at best, but given our current viral situation, I’m being extra cautious. Also, I’m trying to be considerate which seems to be a dying art. It’s not complicated! Stay home if you’re not feeling good. Got it? Check. 

Staying home is the right thing to do, but my home is small which means my world is very small. As the incredibly vexing song suggests, it is indeed a small world after all, but a small world means a small life. Doesn’t it? It feels small. That’s probably more accurate. Feelings aren’t facts. I have to keep reminding myself of this simple truth, and then I sigh quite dramatically.

Even when I do leave my home, I don’t venture too far away. I may not be contagious, but there’s a very contagious virus floating around out there. My immune system doesn’t function like it should, which means I’m…I…I can’t say it. Yes, I can. Suck it up! I’m…Vulnerable. Boom, got it out. Thank-you. Thank you. The applause is unnecessary which is why no one is clapping. Cool. Cool.

I have a very sensitive gag reflex, and that triggered it. I might throw up. No, wait, I think I’m okay. Kept it down. Whew! I hate being vulnerable. In every conceivable context, I hate it. Life, love, health. All of it. Vulnerability is repugnant.

Then again, it’s an admirable quality as long as it’s in the possession of others. Does that make me a hypocrite or a complex human being? Huh…Both might be true and it’s something that needs to be unpacked in great detail. To do that, though, I think words would be a valuable asset. Unfortunately, at the moment, all I can think about is how bizarre words are.

Bizarre in an extraordinary way. I love words. The way they look on a page. The way they feel rolling off the tongue. The way one word can mean so many different things. I love how a single word can create a picture that’s more vibrant than anything Picasso or Liberace could ever dream up.

When I hear a word, an elaborate painting starts to take shape. Out of nowhere, not a paintbrush in sight, colours and shapes are splashed on a canvas. Lines reach out to each other and they start to create a detailed scene. A scene that comes to life as if by magic. It’s breathtaking. It’s powerful. It’s stunning and, sometimes, overwhelmingly heartbreaking.

A single word can be the most beautiful thing in the world or the most tragic. How is that possible? How can a few letters, strategically placed, have so much power?

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never harm me.” 

Hum the tune and sing the words. I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard it. It’s been sung at us ever since we were pint-sized. The problem is, bones heal but the wounds left behind by a single word can last a lifetime. A few well-timed words can cut a life short. They can also heal, save a life, and lift people out of the darkest of places. 

That’s the power, beauty, and grace of a few letters strung together, and it’s such a wondrous thing. 

These symbols, that are akin to scratches on a cave wall, carry our lives in their misshapen hands. By themselves, they’re meaningless. Put them together and we can craft a whole new world. They can cure diseases. They can bring about war and peace. They create communities and bonds that last far beyond the beating of a single heart.

They inspire this solitary soul, sitting in an eight hundred square foot apartment, to look beyond a bland, tasteless, existence. They pull me out of my head and show me an energy that flows between each letter, word, and person. They encourage me to let go of my hyper-reality and explore a deeper meaning. These words, of all shapes and sizes, dance across the page. They open my mind to new definitions and let me explore the dream world they’ve created.

Even if that world doesn’t line up the dictionaries’ definition.

My mind is strange, weird, and it likes to follow streams of thought that deviate from socially accepted norms. It hears a word and the real meaning doesn’t matter all that much. It’s the image it paints or the movie it produces. An association between one word and another. Drawn together with the flimsiest of wires but, I can’t help but follow the line and see where it goes.

For example, here’s a word I don’t hear in conversation very often but one I love: Prosaic. Say it out loud, and it rolls off the tongue. It sounds like a song. String instruments with a solid bass line run in the background. Not too harsh but not too soft. Uplifting. Hopeful.

If you thought my mind was weird before, hold on. Prosaic sounds a lot like mosaic. When you think of a mosaic, where do you go?

For me, it conjures up images of the Italian countryside. Fields, rolling hills, and cottages speckled across the horizon. Maybe there’s an old monastery hiding behind that overgrown hedge. Abandoned. Forgotten. Left to decay but instead, it’s become home to some of nature’s smallest creatures. In its retirement, it’s become a home and a piece of art that adds mystery to a peaceful valley.

I know the dictionary would have a field day with my overactive imagination. Prosaic is the exact opposite of the image it invokes. It simply means commonplace or ordinary. The word itself speaks to a lack of imagination, but its use in our ordinary and commonplace lexicon has diminished. Its lack of use transforms it into something striking, melodic, and alluring.

Again, I know what the word means and I have a dictionary to prove it. But for a second, imagine that the word is new. Close your eyes and let your mind go blank. The word flows out of someone’s mouth and images start to form. For me, with prosaic, I see the Italian countryside. I’ve never been to Italy, but I would love to go! I’m a history buff and it’s a country that’s rich in all of the wonderful things. Also, I hear the food is amazing but I digress.

It’s bizarre, I know, but my mind is a very strange place to visit or live. It creates movies, paints landscapes, out of random and unrelated word associations. Literal meaning, while wondrous and breathtaking, steps aside and lets the melody create its own reality. 

But that’s the beauty of words! That’s their power, their elegance, and their magic. That’s what I love about them and why I go searching in dark mines. It’s also why I fear losing these precious gems and start writing word counts with a delusional hope that no one will notice.

It’s not about letting people down or missing a deadline. It’s about missing that connection to a power that can lift me up from my darkest of places. It’s missing the community the words create. Words, when they’re at their best, give me hope that beauty still exists. Even here, inside my eight hundred square foot bubble because words turn those eight hundred feet into eighty thousand miles.

So, uh, how’s my word count now?


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