What's the Point of Words?

"Ever feel like you want to say something—anything—but at the same time, not just anything? You want to say something that will inspire, stimulate, be empathized with… just something that will evoke some kind of emotion from others, but you have no idea how to put what you want to say into some form of coherent words. You sit there feeling something, not entirely sure what it is you’re feeling, but it’s something incredibly powerful, and it’s something you want to try to capture with words to share with others, but when you go to try to put words together, there’s… nothing. No matter what words you come up with, it seems like those words don’t properly convey what you’re feeling, to the point where every word seems to be an understatement because of how overused words are. It’s like when you tell someone 'I love you' and that person just laughs it off, because its meaning has been deteriorated by the overuse of the phrase, but what you really mean and the message that you’re really trying to get across is 'I LOVE you'. Words just don’t seem to be enough… and I guess that’s where actions come in: to serve as an opportunity to show exactly what meaning there is in one’s words. But if that’s the case, then what’s the point of words at all?"

I wrote that about two months prior to my 18th birthday. Four years later, it still holds true, and it remains to this day one of my proudest pieces of writing. For once, I was able to properly articulate how I felt with words; ironically, it was about not being to properly articulate how I feel with words.

Rereading my little soliloquy, I found myself thinking about the question I posed: what is the point of words? It's a question that even today, I'm not really sure how to answer. I mean, I know that words have a purpose, and I know that words can have an impact. That I know for a fact. I've felt it. But I think it's far too simplistic to describe it as just "words" that have an impact. As 17-year-old me said, almost every word's meaning kind of feels empty because of how overused words are. Sometimes it even feels like I'm using an entirely different dictionary than everyone else. The same words will have one meaning to me and seemingly an entirely different meaning to everyone else, and it gets really confusing. But I digress. 

I find that words on their own don't have much meaning. Let's look at a sentence: "I am very sad". Does it make you feel anything? Let's look at another sentence that says the same thing with a stronger word: "I am morose" (yes, I did recently watch Dead Poet's Society). With the stronger word, do you feel anything? Does either sentence really mean anything to you at all? Words exclusively on their own can only do so much. With spoken words, the solution is easy: what brings words to life and gives them meaning is the body language, tone, and emotion in one's voice. None of that is as transparent when writing. Writing is rudimentary compared to spoken words, yet it can have equally as powerful (or more) of an impact than spoken words. How is that? How can anyone do that?

I don't know that I'm qualified to make this kind of statement, but what I've found is that a quality writer is able to make the meaning of the whole greater than the sum of its parts; they're able to overcome the deficiencies of words and transcend beyond to create something truly meaningful and emotional. That's what I strive to be able to do. 

I sat alone in my room with a single dimmed light, listening to the deafening silence as it consumed my mind. A part of me wanted to pick myself up and go somewhere–anywhere–where my thoughts weren't my only companion, but the other part of me was glued to my seat unable to move, staring aimlessly at the wooden desk in front of me. All I saw on that wooden desk was an outline of my shadow, hollow and empty, and without much content. 

It's a work in progress, but that was my attempt to convey "I am very sad" in a more meaningful way.

So what's the point of words? Words are puzzle pieces; on their own, they may not be worth much of anything, but if you carefully put them together in such a way, you can create a masterful work of art. The point of words is to create those works of art, and more importantly, share them with others so they do the same. And that is my answer. The point of words is to inspire, and that is why I write.