I’m a big fan of words. Not individual words per se, but when words are strung together in such a way as to affect us deeply. Whether the results manifests themselves in a good laugh, a good cry, a call to action, or some combination of all of the above. Words are powerful.
Two forms of word play I have particular affection for are quotes and song lyrics. I don’t know why. I’ve just always admired a good quote. A small collection of words that conveys a powerful concept. As for lyrics, I think there’s something magical about combining thoughtful words and music, especially when it seems as though the songwriter has somehow peeked into your heart and found a piece of your own story.
Yesterday, with a song that’s been playing in my head for the past several days, I came across a quote that was in opposition with said song. It left me feeling conflicted, because I tend to agree that the words in the song and the words in the quote were both true, even though they were at odds with one another. Here’s the quote:
“It’s better to keep grief inside. Grief inside works like bees or ants, building curious and perfect structures, complicating you. Grief outside means you want something from someone, and chances are good you won’t get it.”
~ Hilary Thayer Hamann (Anthropology of an American Girl)
As I spoke these words aloud though, they felt bitter in my mouth. Grief outside often does indeed mean you want something from someone, and the stiff upper lip side of me tends to agree. “Stop whining,” it says. “Don’t burden someone else with your problems.There are certain things that must remain unsaid. Bury them deep and no one gets hurt,” and on and on.
But those aren’t the words I want to believe. The words I want to believe are these:
Say (by John Mayer)
Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all of your so-called problems,
Better put ‘em in quotations
Say what you need to say [x8]
Walking like a one man army
Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you’d be better off instead,
If you could only . . .
Say what you need to say [x8]
Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You’d better know that in the end
Its better to say too much
Then never say what you need to say again
Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open
Say what you need to say [x24]
I’ve thought about both the quote and the song quite a bit. Maybe it’s just me, but I think the quote comes from someone who builds walls around herself. Walls built in an effort to insulate her from getting hurt again. I understand that. But I also think those walls don’t really insulate you from pain. They just keep others out, and by doing so, allow you to focus on yourself almost exclusively. (A sure recipe for misery.) They’re also pretty painful for those who are trying to get through them to reach you. And sometimes words left unsaid are every bit as painful as the ones that are. Sometimes moreso.
Are you holding back words you need to share?
“I’m proud of you.”
“I believe in you.”
“You make me smile.”
“Thank you for being there for me.”
“I know this is difficult, but I’m here for you.”
“I wish things could be different.”
“Things are going to be okay.”
“I love you.”
I think I’ll vote for reaching out and saying what needs saying. It just might be exactly what someone needs to hear today…