"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

finding the words

It's a rare day when I can't find words.

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I recently received official confirmation (through this fun little tool) of what most of you already know: I'm a words person. Words matter to me.

As the facilitator of the assessment walked me through the results, I pointed at a multi-coloured image, accented by various shapes placed on it with apparent significance. "Um ... perhaps this is because I'm words-oriented ... but I don't know what this image means. At all."

"I know you don't," he said, amused. And proceeded to translate it into words.

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The other night I was in a meeting with artistic people. They keep inviting me. I'm not sure why, but it's fun to be there. They were brainstorming. I became painfully aware that they dream and brainstorm in colours and symbols and images and metaphors. I dream in bulleted lists and perfectly-crafted sentences.

That's true. I really do.

It was kind of them to let me stay anyway.

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So it's a rare day when I can't find words.

Last night I wrote a letter to my cousin. He impacted my life profoundly, decades ago, when he offered  an opportunity. I was fourteen, undersized, shy. With my parents' permission, I took the opportunity, and spent a summer working in Alaska with thirty-one other teenagers, all but one of whom I had never seen before, and haven't seen since.

You can imagine how much that shaped me.

I owned my faith that summer.

I learned that living well, living passionately has nothing to do with accumulating stuff.

I learned the world was a lot bigger than what I had experienced up to that point.

I learned I could work as hard as the biggest guy in the group.

I came home different.

A lot of life happened after that. For both my cousin and me. We didn't cross paths often, but when we did, it was good and meaningful.

Tonight I wrote him a long overdue letter of thanks. This summer I will have the privilege of marrying him and his gentle, beautiful, laughing bride. And I'm rather in awe at how life comes around.

Because the letter was so important, it was hard to find the words. The letter got longer and longer, in an attempt to make up for my inability to get it right. But better to write it - rambling, unpolished, imperfect - than to not write it at all.

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