Monday, August 01, 2005

A Box for Words

My mother kept a box in my bedroom closet. The box was a sad, brown, corrugated, old thing. Its torn, four-sided top was folded in on itself--in the way people do when tape isn't an option--and smashed from years of heavier boxes being set upon it. In every way, it was a box perfectly designed never to capture the interest of a child. So the box could, and did, hide in plain view most of my childhood.

Inside that box at any given moment would be about twenty percent of my current ownership of toys. Every so often, my mother would rotate a few toys into and out of the box. She said that I never missed the toys that went into the box. She said that when toys came back, I acted like they were new. My mother said the box taught me to take care of my toys and to value them. My mother should have been a psychologist.

I wish we had a hidden box for words.

Important words get tossed around like old toys, words that once had truly great meanings, words such as truly and great. In my heart, I know that the first time someone wrote yours truly, it meant more than it means today. This, of course, begs the question of sincerely. How often I wonder whether the person signing under it has taken a second to think about what the word means.

Good once was good. Nice used to roll nicely off the tongue. Beautiful never needed a very. Imagine how great something great used to be.

Before Christmas cards, joy filled a heart. I think about joy. I wish for joy, and I wish joy for my friends. Joy is exponentially greater than the happiness we all seek, but the word has been made flat like old soda. Now it calls up thoughts of Seasons Greetings and green box bottoms with clear covers in drug stores every November.

I wish we could hide words the way my mother did toys, placing them in a box in some online dictionary. We have other words to play with. We might have to learn a few new words, to stop and think about the words we choose, but maybe that would lead to a few new thoughts. That wouldn't be so bad. We might even leave some words in the box--words we don't need, words that hurt. That could be positive, I think.

Joy. Love. Beauty. Forgiveness. Peace. Hope. Truth. Friend. Hero. Loyalty. Add your own words here.

It would be good to take important words off our advertising. We could find new ways to express important ideas. We could let them be and see how we do without them. When they came back, we might find that we think differently about them. We might not use them so frequently. We might not put them on billboards and Christmas cards.

I want to know joy as something more than a word on a Christmas card.
—me strauss Letting me be


peg said...

Words got highjacked with PC. All meanings have to be like the color beige.

If we were kids again we could develop a new language of new words (with latin roots of course.)

By the way the tree is lovely.

ME Strauss said...

We already did develop a language of our own and it works pretty well. Though, I'm sure that it 'whelms other people at times.