1. Why do words matter?
Words matter to me because they let me get my mind around – and then communicate to others – feelings, thoughts, images, and scenes that otherwise would stay inchoate; and few things in life seem quite so urgent or compelling to me as this process of naming and saying.
I’m a psychotherapist as well as a writer, and I have witnessed how when people find ways to attach words to their most private and painful experiences, they stop feeling so alone and desperate. Without words, how would we have any chance of understanding another person’s perspective?
But don’t take my word for the value of words. Just reread this first stanza of Wallace Stevens’ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. Spare, yet powerful; conveying a moment that would otherwise be incommunicable:
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.
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