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Friday, March 11, 2016

Some Words on Words

I consider myself fortunate because of something most would find unfortunate.  Due to my parent's joint believe anyone I happened to come into contact with would be a "bad influence" on their little angel, I spent a lot of time alone. That lead me to discover books  and those were my best, and almost only, friends for many years.

By the fourth grade I was reading at an adult level.  I read encyclopedias and dictionaries for pleasure when I was bored at school.   I spent a LOT of time  being bored at school.  Not only did I find a love of reading I found a love of words by themselves.

There are a lot of words with similar meanings.  Some think they mean the same thing.  They don't.  Each word has its own context, its own nuances, its own "flavor".  I know (almost) everyone has heard the saying about the Eskimos having  many words for kinds of snow but no word for snow itself.

Some may think that odd but I understand it completely.  There is a vast difference in snow in big flakes floating softly in the night and tiny droplets, half snow and half ice blowing in a strong wind and swirling down and doing little.  They are both snow but just calling them snow does not really give any indication of context, of feeling, of "being there".

I believe that is what distinguishes the best of poetry and prose from the from the mediocre.  Those may have meaning, a message but they don't contain the elegance, the emotion, the feeling of "being there".  Not just reading words but being there. Seeing what the author sees, feeling what the author feels, smelling the odors, tasting the wind, living in some other place in some  other time.

I found out early on words were my ticket to everywhere and every when.  Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey took me to the old west that never was.  Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein and a host took me to the starts, other planets, other galaxies.

Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jules Vern took me to the center of the  earth,  Lynda Suzanne Robinson took me to ancient Egypt,  Taylor Caldwell took me for many journeys through the biblical world.  Mike Hammer, Travis McGee, Spenser and many others led me through the dark alleys and elite mansions in search of truth and justice.

Many, many authors let me see the lives of people who lived decades, centuries and millennia ago.  Women, men, all over the world lived out their lives via written words through my eyes into my mind.

I feel I am also blessed in another way.  When reading for pleasure I don't see the words.  Each character, every scene are visualized in my mind.  The words come unconsciously and I am just watching a movie.  Full color, Lots of special effects.  Living inside the body and mind of the people involved.

I love words.  I love the journeys those words allow me to take.  Future, past, reality, fantasy, people who actually lived on earth, people who only lived in someone's mind have all shared their words and their worlds.  Twain on the Mississippi and across the world, I've lived the history of the world and the various histories of the world, the galaxy and the universe.

I feel sorry for those who don't love words who don't love to read, who don't fly through all worlds  real and unreal.  I do many things well but I regret I cannot do that for others.

Music and words, I love them both but I am without talent in either.  And, I tell you, the greatest gift you can give your children is the world, the universe, the past and the future and let them explore the glories of everywhere and every when.