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The Thing With Words

Can’t you see? Take a brief look, then. Just the briefest of glances. That’s all you need. And then you will see. There’s this way they have about them… That’s all. They are words, after all. They’re not your children. And they’re not you. They’re not your blood and bones, not your heart and soul. They are sweat and tears, but they’re not you. And they’re not yours. They never were, and never will be.

Because such is the thing with them. Can you see now?

Without needing so much as being at length pondered and measured, they give birth to realities. For once uttered, pregnant nebula calving worlds and quasars and abysses or moribund giants, the word breathes life into that which it designates. One second erupting from your mind and then just briefly brushing your lips, and there: from the realm of gods to that of men, the realm of essence to the grey shabbiness of materiality. Of reality as only the word knows it. One. Briefest. Split. Moment.

Without so much as a please, thank you, or by your leave. Imagine such power.

And then it’s no longer yours. It’s no longer a shred of your imagination, a token of your intention, a single droplet of your carelessness or little thought. It has become. It has a life of its own. Its own momentum. That word is. And it is for all to have and own. For all to read.

Just like that. Can you imagine? When just the moment before it existed but in the recesses of your mind, sheltered, harbouring where no-one could make of it what you didn’t want to. What you wouldn’t allow to. And now there it is, like the proverbial woman of easy virtue and ill-repute: all festoons and gladrags, and sooner no longer needed than borrowed; often bought and seldom paid for, used and abused and then, inexorably, discarded.

There’s your words. Little whores without a will of their own. Lending themselves to multitudes.

You better take it in passing, you know, your words, and with a handsome pinch of the kosher of salts. Keep going. Don’t linger over them. Don’t lend yourself to brooding over the memory of that which you held as once yours. That was a lie you told yourself. Words, you see, they really belong to no-one, because in the end they belong to everybody.

And never trust anyone who tells you those were your words, either, be it in hope, despair, anger, purposefully. Your words are theirs the very moment they leave your lips. Your fingertips. Theirs. No longer, never again yours.

And you, poor little deluded bird, tuning your song, honing your craft. Thinking you owned a piece of them. Wanting to fight for the truth in your words. Truth does not belong to words. It belongs to you and to you only. Your meaning, your essence, the truth of your word — it is never only yours unless you’ve left it unsaid.

So always tell them you have no words, never have had any, they were never yours to begin with, never yours, never yours. They were just an old dirty habit you picked up as a child, an old familiar place or a gesture you return to at the corner of dream and life. Something familiar but soon estranged, departed, a quantity from then on unknown.

And you, you are just the mirror who repurposes the puzzle for them. Tell them. Tell them how you allow them the freedom to read into those words whatever they want to; because in fact such thing was never yours to forbid, either. Whatever they need, however they need the puzzle to fit, the mirror to reflect, the word to mean, the curtain to fall at the end of the play.

That is your gift to them. Or maybe it is the curse you have to live with within yourself. But don’t tell them that.

Tell them only that the words are your gift to them. Never mention Pandora or Schrödinger or any other poisoned box, be it womb or tomb or neither or in-between. And then go. Just go. Because only then are the words in you truly free. Only then can words be your truest freedom.

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