Peace, one and all…
Words form limitations, as much as they suggest possibilities. Words close doors, as much as they open them. Words mark out terrain, as much as they open it up for exploration. But this need not be a cause for sorrow, nor need it be a source of regret.
Forming words is a fundamental part of being human it seems. Indeed, it is the very essence of what it means to be human. Each of us contains a heart/mind (that is, a centre of emotion/cognition). Each of us possesses a tongue. Each of us speak, therefore, from a certain place, time and (for want of a better word) temperament. Each of us can see things differently and so we speak about them differently. Moreover, the very fact of language means that we load meanings into the words we use in all sorts of ways.
No two meanings are exactly the same, it seems. No two people infuse a word with exactly the same meanings. This is not, of course, to deny the fact that words must carry shared meanings in order for them to be intelligible. Rather, it is to say that the nuances we invest in our words lead us to all sorts of interesting differences.
Elsewhere, I have explored this broad idea with regards to poetry. To reprise that post, the very humanity of our words gives us ever more creative ways to ‘fail’, ever more beautiful ways in which we fail to grasp reality. The point being, I think, that there is nothing to fear in the limited nature of language. In some ways, being afraid of words is rather like worrying about the sun shining: why worry about the innate nature of something?
The Quranic story of Adam illustrates our ability to use words, to define, to name, is fundamental to who we are as a species. The Quran says that God taught Adam the names of all things. It thus suggests that it is this very ability which gives us our great (and often untapped) potential. This is perhaps the symbolic meaning behind the Quranic story of the angels prostrating themselves before Adam at God’s command. The fact that we can explore ideas in so many ways and from so many vantage points, demonstrates that problems can be approached differently. That is, problems can be overcome.
It also shows that conversation (or, the sharing of words if you will) can lead us towards creativity, towards the solving of our problems, towards wisdom. In other words, as we slowly come to understand that the truth exists beyond and independent of our ability to describe it, we begin to see that, in some sense, we all have a part to play – we all have a place in the grand conversation of life. Or, more fundamentally, words are thus a means of approaching silence.
This is why I find conversation (or dialogue or sohbet) so very rewarding. It is also why I have benefitted so very much from this blog. That is, through this blog I have been able to share my words with others. More importantly, I have been given the rare gift of having the words of others touch me in the very core of my soul.
And my last prayer is in praise of God, Sustainer of All Being.