This week’s post is a favourite passage from Nancy Houston’s exquisite novel An Adoration, in which the character Fiona says:
Mama claims that people can’t exist in and of themselves, they’re a patchwork of everything they’ve seen and done, their heads are teeming with the words and sentences they’ve heard and read over the years…
She says we’re like planets hurtling through space, reflecting and absorbing each other’s light, colliding and interacting, whether we like it or not, we’re bits of matter swinging through time and being continually transformed, and the only difference between us and other bits of matter is that we’re aware of our voyage, amazed by it, eager to describe it to each other, turn it into a story, a history —
You tell me your story and I’ll tell you mine, your story becomes a part of mine, you become a part of me and I of you, what you’ve told me enters into me and mingles with what I am as intimately as language itself, and though language doesn’t belong to me I wouldn’t be myself and indeed would be nothing without it; it has come down to me from zillions of people in a chain or rather a dense network of chains going back to the darkest mists of prehistory.
Thus, mama says…to be a person…is to be a part of this ceaseless, mind-boggling circulation of words, ideas and stories that began eons before our birth and will end only when the sun burns itself out, or when we finally manage to smash our precious green-and-blue planet into a thousand new, minuscule, language-less ones. (p. 49-50)
We are all a part of this incredible story telling-and-living extravaganza, this beautiful circulation of love and language. How wonderful, and how exasperating at times as words offer the ability to both heal as well as to hurt.
Pay attention to the way you use words this week. Try to notice when you are offering them for the benefit of yourself and others, and when you may be wielding them to judge, blame or shame yourself or another. Do your words acknowledge the interconnections between us, or do they perpetuate separation in the form of prejudice or comparison?
I encourage you NOT to judge yourself for what you notice. The important part is having an awareness so that we can choose to do things differently. Without seeing how we habitually use words, we can’t make a change and choose to speak, write and act through them in kinder, more compassionate ways.