Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What did they mean?


Sometimes you make a mistake. 
You say something, you write something - and you find you cannot take the words back.

Othertimes you don't make a mistake.
You say something, you write something - and the listener/reader interprets the words differently.
Maybe you could take it back, but how would you know what to retract?

And sometimes, you write something that lives inside your reader forever.
Whether in context or out of context - the words resonate and leave a lasting impression.


For years, I have kept a journal of such 'writings'. 
Something I read, I kept. Even when far removed from the book/article/story, the words hang with me.

Equity, they came to realize, 
was not the same thing as equivalence, 
as evidenced by bedside tables and snowflakes.
False Friends, by Myla Goldberg, pg. 167

It surprised him that his grief
was sharper than in the past few days.
He forgot that grief does not decline
in a straight line
 or along a slow curve like a graph
in a child's math book.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, by Helen Simonson, pg. 35

Not an elegant tapestry
but a serviceable quilt.
Butterflies of the Grand Canyon, by Margaret Erhart, pg. 311

If you occasionally wonder 
how I know about some of the events 
I describe in this book, I don't. 
I have found that - just as in real life - 
imagination sometimes has to stand in for experience.
An Object of Beauty, a novel, by Steve Martin, pg. 4

My physical mother is gone.
My spiritual mother remains.
I am a woman rewriting my genealogy.
Refuge, An Unnatural History of Family and Place, by Terry Tempest Williams, pg 241

When taken out of context, when used incorrectly - words, thoughts and deeds can still be meaningful. Not everyone has to see it your way or even read it with the intent you meant. 
Beauty might be in the eye of the beholder
-or the writer.

11 comments:

Tracy said...

Brenda,
What a thought provoking post and lovely quips that really need to be thought of...yeah, what do you do with words that arenl't meant to cause harm but someone feels as if they did...can you help or be responsible for someone else's response to your words?
Ummm....

Pat Tillett said...

A really great post Brenda. Very deep. Sometimes people are going to take things the "wrong" way no matter what we say!

Diane AZ said...

For sure we can't always know how others will interpret our words. I like your selections, especially Erhart's "Not an elegant tapestry but a serviceable quilt." And by the way, the birds in flight are awesome!

Thérèse said...

It probably happens a lot in the blogosphere. Some deep thoughts in this post.

Gus, Louie and Callie said...

What a great post..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Pasadena Adjacent said...

A great selection. I do this too but with ephemera. Portrait of Elvis made from toast, a well known horse trainer obit, etc

altadenahiker said...

I definitely have to read something from the Pettigrew series.

Banjo52 said...

Nice egrets!

Or there's the expression, "You can't un-ring that bell."

Such a journal is a great idea--I just can't stay organized long enough for it. Of course, the cousin journal--and the more narcissistic one?--consists of the quotations we can recite from memory. Mine's pretty short, but it's a show-offy, good feeling to be able to spout a line or two at the appropriate moment.

Sandra said...

i like your last comment, and also the can't unring a bell. i can't tell you how many times i have rung the bell and while it was still swinging, wished i could retract the words. these are all good, thanks for sharing your journal.

Saija said...

the written word - how powerful ... and we see things and understand things filtered through our own experiences ... an example being, the bible, i've read it so many times - but as i mature - or understand the culture the words come from - i get more and more out of it's writings ...

good for you re journals ... i keep them haphazardly - and surprise myself from thoughts from the past ...

magda said...

Brenda, hi
Many thanks for your visit to my blog and for your kind words !!
Your blog is lovely and your dog, too!
Have a nice week !!