The Origin of Words

Writing HandsThere came a moment in time when the old man, the old writer of words, began to question his motives and even the processes he had become familiar with.  Had he lost sight of the real world and merged reality with an amalgamation of ideas, facts, clouded memories and pure fantasy in which he created a place he felt more comfortable in; a place he believed more correctly fit his view of how things might, and should, be.

When others spoke to him about ordinary events his mind took bits and pieces from their sentences and merged those words with other stories and his own thoughts to create images.  Those images became clear pictures with words that turned the ordinary into the unusual and, occasionally, into the spectacular.  The end result became something that more comfortably and perfectly fit the old man’s vision of the episode.

Late nights were spent parked near rivers, rolling Ozarks hillsides, barns and still cemeteries.  The old man’s mind somehow translated the sights and sounds of the quiet nights into paragraphs and sentences and words.  It was as if his mind could not accept things as they were but rather needed to put them into a form that better suited him and could more easily be digested.  This process became instinctive and needed no prompting or independent thought.

The sound of the water flowing within the banks of the small river was instantaneously transformed into descriptive words describing water, leaves and the smell of the air itself.  The trees and slopes ascending to the tops of the hillsides became paragraphs and full compositions within themselves.  When the top of the hill was replaced by the dark night sky the sentences transitioned into thoughts of that great expanse.  Barns and meadows became written images that were effortlessly described in detail without the slightest prompting.  Quiet and peaceful cemeteries brought to mind reflections of lost ones and old memories not recently recollected within his memory.  Words were easily transformed into lines of print that flowed so effortlessly onto blank pieces of paper.

Sleep didn’t come easily to the old man.  His eyes would quickly open as thoughts and ideas raced through his mind.  As he rushed to gather writing materials more words began to push into his head.  Before he could write about the sounds of the rivers, images of the hilltops were there.  While recollecting images of stoic old barns and the long ago departed ones who built them, the stillness and cold blackness of cemeteries came to mind.

The old man couldn’t recall the last time he thought of a sight which he hadn’t, in his mind, transformed to better fit his own comfort.  He soon found it difficult to distinguish ideas from factual accounts of events and he often wondered if he had changed or embellished the stories and images to better suit him.  He couldn’t bear to consider anything as ordinary and believed there were unseen and unheard bits and pieces only he could find and more properly assemble.

When the old man put his ideas to paper there were times when he couldn’t write quickly enough.  The words in his mind were so far ahead of his moving hand, and they were bursting to get out.  His hand moved almost robotically and without thought.  The paragraphs, sentences and words flowed over and fell onto the pages and most often, and even before he stopped to read what was written, there were pages and pages.  He never completely understood how the words came out so effortlessly, and where the ideas came from, and he had a dark fear of someday finding that place.

It came to pass that the words became the old man’s best friend.  As he abandoned sleep and wrote them late at night he felt a sense of comfort and belonging.  The words were a part of him and came out naturally.  The sentences and paragraphs and compositions reflected, in many ways, how his mind viewed the world around him.  Those words needed to be placed just perfectly, and when they were correctly positioned, everything was as it should be.  Only then could the words written after midnight speak.

Resplendent, if for nothing more than their purity, the words written while darkness reigns the land can only be severed from the ink starved paper that beckons them by the dawning of yet another day.

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