What Words Mean

https://xkcd.com/1860/

I think it’s astonishing that the universe is contained in eight letters. Or that love is contained in four. It’s one of the things I adore most about language. We can build entire worlds with the correct assembly of lines, dashes, and dots. We can bathe in the deep black of the galaxy with stars whizzing past. Or fall into a pile of red-dusted leaves in the autumns of our childhoods. I can make a whale orbit the sun or a blade of grass tickle your ankle as you walk towards the beach. Even just a single word can pull you into a litany of half-remembered moments–the breeze of the ocean, and light of the sun through the trees, the image of Saturn’s rings from a book.

But words are also tricksters. They mold themselves to fit sentences and preconceived notions, creating misunderstandings and stripping nuance from even the best-formed phrases.

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Wannabe

IMG_20180113_103931_034.jpgIt only took two steps before a doorframe broke my fall. Two more steps before my legendary grace and poise were manifested in near disaster amidst a room full of strangers. Thankfully a set of bleachers intervened before I was fully parallel to the floor. I adjusted my center of gravity and delicately placed my weight back on the wheels I had inexplicably strapped to my feet. My earlier enthusiasm and bravery were long ago consumed by the sheer concentration it took not to fall on my face. Just as I found my balance, the color drained from the room. My gaze slid from the floor, tracking each new addition to the battalion swaggering around the rink. The thrum of skates against the arena was at once both entrancing and formidable. Beginners they said. No experience they said. That is not what I saw. What faced me was the most intimidating, humbling moment of my recent existence.

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Stories I Tell in My Head

Monday was the day the universe tried to swallow me. It came in slyly – appearing first as the insulated silence of the middle distance. I could feel a great cacophony of sound and chaos building just outside my peripheral vision, but the lacuna had my rapt attention. The cursor blinked ceaselessly before me. Blink. Blink. Blink. Mesmerizing.

All at once, my throat caught and panic slipped across my mind. Reality crashed in around me. Just for a second. Then, focus. My eyes found the monitor in front of me and I was once again alone in a quiet office. The clock barely ticked past 7.30, and I knew it was only a matter of time before the panic I felt appeared in the form of coworkers and deadlines. One breath in, one breath out.

That was the same day I decided things needed to change.

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