Words and I have a mercurial history.
There are times when I’m graced with literature; I make friends with sepulchral and lugubrious and exsanguinate. Chewy, silky words that are teetering piles of ideas and nuances, distilled into a single, pure drop of conveyance. These are the words that sit patiently under the distant tree, waiting for me to come over and join them in the blissful shade. They are in no hurry, with no agenda but their meaning, and it worries them little if my brain stumbles on their articulation.
But sometimes I find myself locked in an elevator with a snarling, arrogant fiend. Lyricism rarely graces spoken words, but that’s beyond their concern. They are not here to make me feel good. They do not care about my inner chaos. They will snicker at my misplaced emphasis, invite others in to mock. They seek only to get their point across, vociferously, and whether or not I wish to hear them is irrelevant.
I am thoroughly shackled with the former; I have not been graced with any gift of the oratory. Asking; telling; forcing people to listen–hear–me, is done not by speech or elocution, but with inky black claws. I must be allowed to toggle ideas in my head, switch and delete and rearrange my thoughts into something coherent. Words must drip and ooze down the page, collecting scraps, before coalescing at the bottom to form a plump, shining image.
If I am one who shies away from talking, who runs away into the embrace of bounded pages and pens fast running out of fuel, then I can be sure I have an antithesis. One who burns and crackles like a firework, whose patience for my sedate, measured expression runs out faster than a hummingbird’s heartbeat. They exult in breakneck banter, in letting words tumble out of their mouth quicker than they can catch them. When they speak to me, I might have to sift through clutter, glide over iterations of “um” and “like” and “y’know”, to grasp substance and sense. My dramatic brain has turned listening into both a chore and a respite, a bittersweet cacophony.
(There is another creature out there; one that scares and exhilarates me. One whose charm is a black hole, who sucks the air out of the room with their entrance. They leap onto wobbling desks or languish barefoot in pastoral fields, trailing captive throngs wherever they go. They have harnessed the power of both realms, easily snatching complexity, poetry, and insight out of the esoteric cranking of their brain and splashing it across brick walls and billboards and open air. They are pied pipers, beloved and terrible with their heady influence. For it is a fearful beauty; they are the ones who wrench open the scribal cages and set words free into the auditory realm like doves into a battlefield. Everyone stops; everyone listens; everyone is spellbound.
But, I think we agree: no one man should have all that power.)
And so, to those at whom I howl, growl, yip and squeak, I say this: Wait. Pause. Don’t dismiss or be fooled or put me on a shelf somewhere. Let me write you a sonnet, an essay, a strongly worded note. A manifesto two hundred pages deep bound with twine and delivered to your front door by a woman in a trenchcoat.
I have things to say. I just can’t say them.
At least not out loud.