The power of words

Since I was a little kid, I’ve enjoyed school. Learning has always seemed like more of a privilege than a chore to me. Math used to be my favorite subject until I developed a great interest in history. As long as I can remember, though, I loved to write. The actual act of writing—putting pen to paper—isn’t what excites me. My handwriting is usually the worst in the room. I’m the type of person that runs out of eraser before the pencil is even halfway used. No, what excites me is the ability to compose and combine thoughts for people to read. Written word allows us to effectively share our personal thoughts with others, which is actually a very amazing concept when considered. When I began writing these columns, I was distraught with anxiety! What would I write about? How would go about writing it? Basically, what thoughts would I transfer to my readers? After answering these questions every Wednesday for the past year, I’ve gained a whole new respect for the written word. Most avid readers know the power of a novel. Whether it’s a coming-of-age tale, a warning against dystopian societies, or an inspirational true story, novels are the main weapon of choice by modern authors. They can unite people, uncover mysteries, or even affect public opinion. After reading as many as I have, however, novels seem intimidating. I feel I could never compose such a meaningful and intricate story as Harry Potter or 1984. These feelings usually foster admiration though, as these and other comparable novels more closely resemble works of art than collections of words.
When speaking of the power of words, however, I find political writing—specifically America’s founding documents—to be the pinnacle of influential literature. Documents like the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution are at the same time powerful, eloquent, effective, and timeless. They draw from documents of the past and set precedents for documents in the future. I can’t help but smile when I imagine Thomas Jefferson drafting the Declaration of Independence, unaware of the immortality of his words. My columns reach their peak under a magnet at the top of my refrigerator. By simply writing an idea, Jefferson broadcast it throughout the world and history: “all men are created equal”. My favorite literary form is poetry. I feel that poetry is the easiest and most expressive type of writing, as there are no rules. The beauty of poetry is that the writer can use any means necessary to convey his thoughts to the reader. For example, one of my favorite poems of all time (by Don José Manuel Marroquín) describes the perplexity of love as follows: “Now that barks dog, now that crows cock; now that dawning sounds the high rings bell;…I come to sigh my heaves window your beneaths.” This nonsensical combination of words would be unacceptable in any form other than poetry and perfectly displays the liberty poets have with their language. Another source of my reverence for literature is my recent studies of the Spanish language. I’ve heard that one cannot fully understand their own language without learning another, and after four years of Spanish I believe it. Reading and writing in Spanish can be challenging but it has given me a new perspective of the English language. I’ve found that, in Spanish, my thoughts are limited to the words I can share them with. This discovery has been pivotal in revealing the importance of words to me. After all, what good is a thought if you’re unable to share it?