If you want to find the right word, stop looking. It will find you.
Words don’t like being prodded about. They want to be left alone. They mingle in dusty corners, conspiring to keep the lost word hidden. They appear – when they appear – like the evening primrose that blooms in the dark when no one is watching. If you want to find the right word, she’ll be in the shadows.
Words have a taste, sweet but subtle, like dark chocolate. Or bitter and implied, like an oyster with a teardrop of lemon. Words carry the scent of old bookshops and childhood memories. Strung together they have a flamenco rhythm, steeped in duende. The right word hits you like rain on your face on a sunny day.
Words are cruel and spiteful sometimes, wise and loving at others. Words have a sense of irony.
Words know that there is always the right word and no other word will do. Words believe in brevity – the soul of wit, said Shakespeare, a man never at a loss for words.
The right word at the right time stops wars, cures heartaches, mends bridges, sweeps away barriers. The wrong word is the dropped match that lights a forest fire.
Words want to be sampled, relished, rolled around the tongue. Words need breathing space in the shape of commas, colons, semi-colons and full stops. Words are not fond of exclamation marks! Words are individual. They are content chained together in sentences and paragraphs, but remain mavericks, outsiders beyond the crowd, the mob, the gang.
Words are forceful but fair, flexible, yet solid, strong, dependable. Words are multi-cultural, without prejudice. They believe in freedom, equality, equanimity. If a word were a man he’d be a man of his word. The great novel every writer wants to write begins with the first word.
Roots of the Right Word
In the beginning there was the word and the word was good. The word was healthy. The word civilised our barbarous progenitors. After man had taught himself to make tools, he grew crops to feed himself and stored or traded the surplus. He needed to keep records and used the sharp edge of a flint axe to mark tokens fired in a kiln to confirm the exchange. This form of writing began 12,000 years ago in the Zagros Mountains in Mesopotamia, present day Iraq, Syria and Iran.
It took thousands of years for the marks on clay tokens to develop into pictograms to represent quantities, time frames, commodities. The word was born and scribes in Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, were crucial figures because they had the gift of words.
Man turned his tools to architecture, painting and sculpture, but we know more about classical civilisations than the ruins they left by the words of the philosophers and dramatists, Sophocles, Euripides, Plato, Virgil, Ovid, Bukhari; the words of the poets that resonate still.
A picture may be worth a thousand words but it needs a thousand words to describe a picture.
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According to a group of sage-ish philosophers, the most powerful word ever uttered is Knee! Wielded with confidence, “Knee!” is mightier than the sword and will even bring brave knights to their … knees.
This provides a great deal to think about and I wonder if I should complete the task on my knees.