I’ve been thinking a lot lately about words and the power they have. I finished The Fault In Our Stars less than 48 hours after I started it and many of those words have haunted me in the days since. I mean, you know from the get-go it’s going to be the kind of book that makes you cry. It’s about two teenagers with cancer, one terminal. And if I were going to spoil the book for someone (I AM NOT, DO NOT FRET) I could tell them exactly what it’s about but I could never do the book justice. Because what it’s about is nothing compared to the words John Green uses to tell the story. Let me give you an example, he uses the phrase “existential free throw.” It’s just an amazing choice of words to describe someone having one of those enlightening moments we might have in life, while playing basketball.
Word choice. It’s a powerful tool. Think about the last time someone gave you a real compliment. Think about how good it made you feel. Now, what about the last time someone was mean to you? A tolling comment on your blog, a snotty reply on your Facebook status, rude treatment at a restaurant…think about how quickly that moment ruined your day. If you’re me, negative words have a much longer-lasting impact that positive words. I wish that weren’t the case, but it’s true.
A lot of my friends have been going through tough times lately. Some of you and your family have been sick for WEEKS, colds developing into bronchitis or stomach bugs becoming the flu. All of it passing through your family one member at a time. There are so many bodily fluids being discussed on Facebook and Twitter that I’ve started spraying my screen with Lysol to protect myself. In more life-changing news, there are failed marriages and pregnancy losses. There are serious illnesses affecting you and your families. And then there’s a lot of us just having bad parenting days: Terrible tantrums, teenage attitudes, spoiled tweens, and infants refusing to sleep.
It just seems that there’s just a lot of struggle lately in my peer group, both online and off.
So I want to use the only tool I have – my words – to try to make it better. I want you to know that I think about you a lot. I am the world’s WORST commenter. I read 100 blog entries a day sometimes and leave maybe…MAYBE one comment. ONE. I’m better on Facebook or Twitter because I can “Like” or “Favorite” or “Retweet” as a way of “commenting” without having to actually use my words. But commenting on blogs? If I do it? Consider yourself one of the few.
But know that you are amazing. I’m really sorry for the struggles that are facing you right now. I wish I could make it all go away because I hate seeing people suffer. Whether you’re just in a funk, or if you’re having an entire crisis of faith, I wish I could help in some way. But today I’m going to do what I can to just help EVERYONE. I’m going to use my words. I’ll be deliberate in what I say and how I say it today — making sure that I consider that fact that everyone is struggling and my words could make or break them in that moment. It’s not enough to just NOT BREAK THEM, I want to do my best today to use my words to spread as much joy as I can.
I don’t know if my ripple of cheer will reach you or not. But I hope it does. Whether it starts with a sincere compliment to a friend or note of praise to a volunteer, I want to try to alleviate some of the anxiety and sadness I’m seeing in my Twitter stream, my Facebook timeline, and my Feed Reader. It’s everywhere lately and I find myself worrying about all of you. Hell, all of US because we all know it’s not been all sunshine and rainbows over here either.
So I’ll use my words today to try to add a little bit of sunshine to the days of everyone I come into contact with. And maybe they’ll take that and pass it along to the next person. And that way, if I don’t get a chance to actually tell you what you need to hear to make your day better, maybe the ripples will pass near you and someone else will.
And if not, I’m making almost 300 cake poppers and truffles for an event this weekend. I don’t mind sharing.