Making Meaning

My business is words. Words are like labels,

or coins, or better, like swarming bees.

I confess I am only broken by the source of things…

***

Your business is watching my words. But I

admit nothing. …

But if you should say this is something it is not,

then I grow weak…

-Anne Sexton, “Said the Poet to the Analyst”

Dear Reader,

Most everything we do is for love. It’s our nature to want to be wanted, to seek acceptance, to reach for understanding and confirm that we belong somewhere in the senselessness of chaotic things where people are simply bumping into each other. Making choices we believe are logical, we justify our subconsciously selfish needs. Language’s paradox is such: to connect us but also to not quite be able to get it, at times. Words are imprecise. Interpretation is even more so. Still this is the medium we’ve made in order to make meaning.

Writing allows me to understand myself. Essayer, the French verb infinitive to try, is precise. We are trying to express what is unknowable, invisible, and otherwise silent. We are bringing it into the light, which brings with it an essential and aweful vulnerability, the very state that allows us to create, connect, and love. (See Brene Brown’s TED Talk).

As Sexton remarks, words do label, define, distinguish, but this can also be limiting. Words can be a kind of currency that we use to exchange for other or more currency, or they are a commodity, or as furiously noisy and defensive as those swarming bees. We mouth them with a very focused intent, or they drop from our tongues before we can stop ourselves from spitting sound. Regardless of whether we control and craft or are overpowered by our words, it’s how they are received that further complicates everything.

I cannot know if you’ll get me, but I do know that I need words, and hope that you’ll love something I say. Not that you’ll always agree, but that at least once you’ll feel that pang of familiarity, that I’ve said what you have always felt but could not figure out how to say it yourself.

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