I know…I know…Words mean different things to different people, but can we agree on one thing? Words do bring images to mind. Whether I am talking about dogs and you imagine a French Poodle and your buddy pictures a Labrador, can we agree that generally we all got the idea of a four legged creature, man’s best friend, furry, often friendly with a wagging tail?
Ok – so words can bring up images. Now, if that is true, can you picture a young man…let’s name him Joe. Joe has been brought up far from the wild side, sheltered from the seamy side of life…ok, lets admit it, Joe was home-schooled. His parents are married and live together and have never even considered filing for divorce. Joe is smart, educated, nice looking and well spoken. Or so he thought. Until he spent some time in a large gathering of people his own age. Then the gloves came off and the words came out.
The problem wasn’t that Joe didn’t understand the humanity around him or that the populous thought he was a nerd because he didn’t use the words they did. They had no problem with his soft spoken, clean style. The problem, at least for Joe, was that words brought images to his mind. Think for a moment what the usual assortment of nasty words are and if you can list them without an image coming to your mind to disturb you then you might not pity Joe at all. In fact, you’ll undoubtedly wish to throw a few well chosen words at Joe’s parents for raising such a sheltered kid. What were they thinking? What right did they have to send him naked (verbally speaking) into the world? But, you see, he isn’t naked or ignorant. In fact, Joe has a much stronger connection to words than the average person in the crowd. He actually sees in his mind what the words mean. That is his problem.
So, how does Joe solve this dilemma? Well, he has two rather simple choices. He can stay home away from the crowds and shelter himself from the world or he can learn to hear words and not picture them, not hear them, so to speak. In our world today we only have a few Joes left. There aren’t many people who still hear words and really know and picture what they mean. We convince ourselves that movies, books, games, and conversations are more spicy for the extra salt…the raunchy extras that add depth to our lives and raw meaning to our ideas. But I wonder.
I know, I am on the losing end of this argument. My son told me as much this afternoon and I thought seriously about not writing this blog. But still, I, at least have a soft spot for those Joes in the world who see what words mean, who care, who have imaginations, and who hurt a bit when the world throws ugly at them. After awhile the world will most likely win and Joe will learn to fit in. But when that happens…the world loses the worth of that honest imagination who could still see what words mean.