Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The unreasonable weight of bad words

I almost had a great day yesterday. Things had been pretty slow after the holidays and I was pretty much resigned to yet another session of watching ducks through the window when Kirk called. He’s an Aussie, a pal of mine from work and on the spur of the moment he decided to drop in to visit me and my girlfriend on his way back to Algeria. Naturally, most of the entertainment took place in the pub where it didn’t take long for a whole host of friends who I hadn’t seen since Christmas to join us. Like I say, all the ingredients were there to make a day great (unexpected friends packed full of stories and huge laughs) that culminated in a guitar thrashing session back at the lodge. Cool, and a fantastic time was almost in the bag when, lying in bed just before the stroke of midnight I unaccountably blurted two words to my girlfriend, snoozing on the pillow next to me. Now I won’t say what those words were (why or what isn’t important here) but the argument and tension that followed was black enough to turn the whole day sour. My own fault and I’ll hold my hands up, but what struck me during that dark, silent hour between fight and sleep was how powerful those words had been. Five bad syllables that had somehow managed to pollute the thousands of good ones that had previously been spoken that day. Bad words have this ability. They can ruin moments, days, lives and they can break things that an eternity of good words will never fix. This isn’t rocket science but it does also explain why as a writer I sometimes find myself staring at a blinking cursor for hours on end looking for the right word. In reality though, it isn’t my search for the right word that delays; it’s my fear of the bad one, the one with the power to turn the last three pages in to toilet paper.
Recycling Jimmy

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