Patrick E. McLean
Patrick E. McLean
You Are The Creature that Turns Silence into Words

You Are The Creature that Turns Silence into Words

And why you should be careful naming bears

You and I are the creatures who turn silence into words.

And if you find it at all difficult to know what you should do or say: first ask yourself about the silence.

Only when you are still, can the voice inside you be heard.

Only the blank page can be filled with words.

That’s some zen-sounding bullshit. I mean sometimes, when you are still and quiet the only thing that comes to you is a nap.

But for sure, the voice cannot be heard while you are watching TikTok.

What is this mystical “voice”? It’s the stew of everything you’ve ever heard or read or thought bubbling around inside of you. And this stew is made of the finest possible ingredients: words.

Emerson wrote that, “Every word was at first, a stroke of genius.” And I think that’s right.

To speak of the light is to invite it into your soul.

To name the darkness is to hold your fear at bay.

But to name a bear that is trying to eat you is pointless.

Just stand up real tall, wave your arms and yell, “Motherfucker“ at it and hope it all works out.

Do not turn around and run, because then you become a faceless, wordless meatsnack. We all know how that ends.

If the bear had words it would name you Slim Jim and then snap you off.

But, if you survive to tell the tale, you will do it with words that have been invented and perfected — indeed survived, because they were powerful. Each word is the survivor of a process that is hundreds of thousands of years old.

Every word of meaning is a deeper well of meaning than you can know. It’s scary to realize that you know not what you are calling forth when you use a word.

The simplest words are the trickiest of all. In the “Shorter” OED the definition of the word “take” stretches out across four pages.

You know what you are trying to mean when you use the word “take”, but that is not the same as knowing what the word “take” means. Neither do I, Neither does anybody.

If you truly tried to understand a single word, you’d never have time to go on that hike. You would never meet the bear. You wouldn’t have any great stories to tell.

My point is that deep meaning is baked into every word you use. So when you read them carefully, when you really listen to the voice, it will speak to you. If you give your words proper attention they will create new meaning for you and it will change your life.

Patrick E. McLean
Patrick E. McLean
Short fiction every week and serial novel "A Town Called Nowhere"
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