It seems that only those included in the number of human beings that are afflicted by “The Word”, that are also stained by the attached process. A love for words begins early in Life for those of us who harbor one; mine did, at least.
I recall noting many “adult” words that I overheard in “adult” conversations during my childhood; words such as: proverbial (I still over-use it, by default), harlequin (A word that I loved so much as a child, I chose it as a name for my first dog), hankering (a word that has a definition just as awesome as it is), overlord (a word that remains as fun to say today as it did when I was three), and most memorably: Tachyon (a word that I notoriously misused throughout my childhood because I simply loved to say and spell it). I was notorious for making statements that were made up of various idioms and adages I had heard my older male family members (my Papa, Dad, or any of my 5 older brothers) use. I am teased to this day over things I said in all earnestness, as a young girl trying to be super serious and to be taken seriously.
“Don’t put all of your eggs in a gift horse’s mouth before they hatch”…
“Never kick a gift-horse you led to water in the mouth when he’s down”…
“Give a man a fish, shame on you; teach him to fish, shame on me…”
“Kicking the bowl”, instead of the bucket…
I knew my ABC’s way too early as well; I can partially remember the day that I was in my Dad’s lap at the kitchen table and we were coloring together (so I must have been super young because I became “too old” to sit in his lap by the time I was 3.5 years, according to my Papa) and my Dad surprised me by asking me if I knew the alphabet yet. He was trying to mess with me, being certain that I didn’t – and that he would be able to give me shit for not knowing an answer – he was good like that. I can guarantee that he was the more shocked of the two of us when I belted out the entire song correctly without missing a beat; being the oldest of his own siblings, my Dad often overlooked the power that having a clan of older brothers gave me in such instances. I was (and still am) like a dried out sponge just waiting to absorb any information made available to me in any given context.
It was like I saw words as people spoke them, like a cartoon bubble over everyone’s heads, all the time. I was a naturally excellent speller as a child, something I have lost touch with in the time in between; I just LOVED words – there’s no other way to describe it. There is only one “wordsmith” in my immediate family, and it had been my Papa, who doubled as my daycare provider during my pre-school era. This became one of the most enriching and enlightening parts of my youth when it comes to words and my love for them; we often played word games together that loosely ran all day long and into dinner-time. My Papa gifted me very, very generously with his mind, heart and brain, indeed. In grade school, I was able to win over the others in my class every time through the shaping and molding of the words I chose to use on them; I took sweeping victories in my campaigns for the Student Union or Student Council positions I went after, because of the speeches I had written and the way I worded them. I was a peacemaker at home and on the playground – and my love of vocabulary never let me down in that context either. On the flip side, it has been the same love of words and literary expression that has wounded me deeply many times in Life, too, however. I am sensitive to the weight that words carry in an almost exquisite way; something that is tried and true: impossible to explain to a non-word-lover. When the weight of a word has been passed along to me, I have carried it no matter how heavy it may have been.
Most, if not all, people not afflicted by “The Word” have no appreciation for the burden attached to being a carrier of its weight, and behave accordingly. I have realized in the more recent years of my life: just how much I am affected by literature and the artistic use of words, as I find myself feeling the most emotions available to me during times that I have absorbed written content. There is just so much simplicity alongside of such intricacy in words and the beautiful combinations they can concisely make up. John Keats, my all-time favorite romance poet, who was so perfected in his wordsmithing skills that he often made women cry and men shrink, left on his headstone, the most eloquent description of it all:
“Here lies one whose name was writ in water.”