November 23

Words do not express thoughts very
well.  They always become a little
different immediately after they are
expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish.

Hermann Hesse


Today's Meditation:

If anyone has ever known words, Hermann Hesse has.  He made a living from them, and he crafted them very carefully to create works like Siddhartha and Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers, one of the most influential books in German history.  I think that what he says is very important because of the way that we depend so much upon words to express our desires and feelings, without stopping to consider just how ineffective those words tend to be, even if we consider them very carefully before we say them.

If we depend upon our words too much, eventually we're going to learn just how limited they are.  Our feelings are incredibly complex, yet more often than not our words are not.  In addition to this limitation, our words are also interpreted by others, and that interpretation isn't always in sync with what we think that we're saying.

I believe that this is one of the main reasons for which it's very important that we practice our use of words and actually make an effort to learn how to use them more effectively.  But even more importantly, we have to be aware of the limitations of the words we use.  If we are aware of those limitations, then we can choose our words more carefully and even acknowledge that they aren't expressing our feelings as accurately as we would like.  If we do this, then we may be able to keep certain situations from getting out of control or being misunderstood.

Our words are very, very important to us.  They're important to us in our relationships, our jobs, our social contacts, our creativity.  When we are aware of the limitations of those words, then we can take them seriously and do our best to use them in much better, much more effective ways.

Questions to consider:

How often have you been "betrayed" by your own words?  How aware were you of the importance of those words before you used them?

Why do so few of us take our words more seriously, even after we've seen evidence of their limitations?

What does Hesse mean when he says that words "become a little different"?

For further thought:

All our words are but crumbs that
fall down from the feast of the mind.

Khalil Gibran
Sand and Foam


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