“Good words are worth much, and cost little.” -George Herbert
I love words. I love the spoken word, although I am not adept at speaking the spoken word. I love the written word—of which you can be the judge at how adept I am. I am more comfortable with expressing myself through the written word, though I long ago gave up handwriting (except when I have to take notes). I tend to create my masterpieces (?) on my laptop. I think better when I am tap,tap, tapping. My fingers can keep up with my thoughts. When I try to physically write something with a pen, I quickly lose my train of thought—I cannot write fast enough for my short memory.
All this being said, I read something that I found inspirationally true recently, and I will share it with you in the hope that you too will enjoy it. It is a little riff on words and the way they make you feel. Written by John Blofeld in an essay called *“What Words Does Your Mind Feed On?”, it made me stop and think. So without further ado I present you with his somewhat fantastical outlook on the world of words:
“A mind fed on words such as heaven, earth, dew, essence, cinnabar, moonlight, stillness, jade, pearl, cedar and winter plum is likely to have a serenity not to be found in minds ringing with the vocabulary of the present age—computer, tractor, jumbo jet, speedball, pop, dollar, liquidation, napalm. Overkill! Who would thrill at the prospect of rocketing to the moon in a billion-dollar spacecraft if he knew how to summon a shimmering gold and scarlet dragon at any time of the day or night and soar among the stars?”
These words were written in 2000, so I am sure he would find a few more today that would set his teeth on edge but I think he quite clearly sets out the perimeters of the magic of words. I think we all have favourite words—a few of mine are home, quaint, charming, magic, family….but enough about me. Other people think that our favourite words mean something—most notably creative expert (I would love to add that description to my resume) and author(okay this one too) Michael Michalko. He believes that our favourite words “reveal certain aspects of our personality.”
He mimicked a survey that was conducted in Japan at Hitotsubashi University to find out the 10 top favourite words of his friends, acquaintances, business associates and participants in his seminars. He asked them to freely list, in order of importance their top 10 words that “in some way represented their life.” Their responses from one to ten were: peace, equality, security, prosperity, love, fun, compensation, acknowledgement, freedom and health. He admits that his survey was neither scientific nor rigorous but said he was surprised at some of the words that were missing such as kindness, honesty, honour and integrity.
He conducted the same survey at a nursing home and the ten responses were quite different—the only word on both lists was health. The respondents at the nursing homes listed God, faith, family, health, friends, thanks, giving, honesty, independence and sharing as their top ten favourite words. We can come to various conclusions comparing the two lists, but I guess where you are on your journey in life determines what is important to you.
The original survey done in Japan is interesting in that it kind of melds the two unofficial surveys Michalko conducted. Japan’s top ten words were in order of significance to those surveyed: effort, sincerity, freedom, peace, love, thoughtfulness, trust, thanks, health and dreams. Their number one word is not all that surprising considering the country’s national work ethic.
An aside: I found a quote on brainyquote.com that I particularly like, and may add to my list of favourite words. Mario Testino says that: “My favourite words are possibilities, opportunities and curiosity. I think if you are curious, you create possibilities….”
*from Taoism: The Road to Immortality