Not Enough Words in the World

tiny snowman on a rock

Made by hand, Saturday 26 January 2013

Back during the holidays while I was in Georgia, I was having dinner one night with a group of people, and on being told that I live in Washington, DC, a man said, “We’ll pray for you.” I responded, “You can if you want to, but you don’t have to. I like it there.”

There are many things I like about Washington, one of which is the proximity to history, a thing that interests me greatly. The President was inaugurated this week, and I decided that because it was so easy, being here and all, I’d go downtown and watch.

Upon reflection, joining about 800,000 people in a situation involving some of the most intense security on earth is not necessarily simple.

I did get as far as the Mall, where the Smithsonian museums are located, and where the massive crowd gathered, separated into sections with soldiers and police in between for the sake of crowd control. I was on the far end, near the Washington Monument, and we watched the giant TV (or “jumbotron” as it is so cutely known). That is, we watched the jumbotron until—at the moment the inauguration was starting—it turned into jumbo useless damn thing, and we could only see garbled aggravation. I left my section and managed to sneak past one line of soldiers to move up the Mall, but before I came to another jumbotron I came to more soldiers, and they weren’t letting anyone get by.

So that was that. I wasn’t going to see anything, and I headed home to get out of the cold. It may have been a lucky break. From what I read later, thousands of people converging on the Metro at once created an ambiance that was not conducive to serenity. By the time people were crowding down to the trains, however, I was serene myself, as I had gone on to the bookstore, where I was looking at a book on the artwork of Andy Goldsworthy. He’s a remarkable artist who uses materials found in nature, then photographs them: one two three four.

Looking at the photographs made me wish I could do things like that. I always feel that way looking at Goldsworthy. I get a feeling of wanting to create something with my hands, and to create something visual. Most of the time I’m creating with words. In the last month I’ve written a few poems, I’ve worked on the new novel, I finished the “play” part of a musical, wrote lyrics for a couple of songs, and I put a good bit of effort into these blog entries. (You’re scratching your head saying, “Wow, this is what it’s like when he’s trying?” I know, I know.)

I love words, of course. I’m captured before I know it when etymology flashes out at me like a quick glimpse of the past, with hints of ancient Rome or fur-wearing German tribes, or when words sing at me making music with the melody of alliteration.

And yet…I don’t know. Once in a while I want more. If I lived alone I might go back to working in paper mache. Years ago I made a few dragons, but I think I’d move in a new non-dragon direction. Anyway, I live in a house with other people and there’s no room for that kind of craft.

One possible benefit to creating something physical is being able to feel the creation process with the body. Good or bad, we live in this world in these bodies, and they need their satisfactions.

I also see another possibility motivating the desire to create something physical. This morning, by coincidence as I was thinking about this blog entry, the pastor of a Unitarian church I was at gave a sermon on creativity, and she referred to having experiences that leave us at a loss for words. When she said this, I began to consider that there are indeed things about being in the world, feelings we have, that words can’t express. And yet I want to express them, foolish as that may be.

Or maybe I just miss making mudpies. I was beginning to get good at that when I was a kid, until I got older and they made me stop.


Filed under How We Create Magic, Language

2 responses to “Not Enough Words in the World

  1. all of the words i put on paper feel like they were made by hand. although I know I did not create them. sometimes, like at quaker meeting today, i draw in my journal and give visual accompaniment to my poetry, not a particularly profound day today. all though the jack-in-the-box epiphanies analogy that I visualized among the attendees will find life in a poem or story someday. No one spoke at today’s meeting, I guess the winding was incompleter or the springs a bit rusty, I enjoyed the no words silence though.

  2. I always most liked the Quaker meeting when no one spoke at all, but that was rare. I miss that sitting quietly for an hour. When I’m alone I sit with noise.

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