You can say anything you want, yessir, but it’s the words that sing, they soar and descend . . . I bow to them . . . I love them, I cling to them, I run them down, I bite into them, I melt them down . . . I love words so much . . . The unexpected ones . . . The ones I wait for greedily or stalk until, suddenly, they drop . . . Vowels I love . . . They glitter like colored stones, they leap like silver fish, they are foam, thread, metal, dew . . . I run after certain words . . . They are so beautiful that I want to fit them all into my poem . . . I catch them in midflight, as they buzz past, I trap them, clean them, peel them, I set myself in front of the dish, they have a crystalline texture to me, vibrant, ivory, vegetable, oily, like fruit, like algae, like agates, like olives . . . And I stir them, I shake them, I drink them, I gulp them down, I mash them, I garnish them, I let them go . . . I leave them in my poem like stalactites, like slivers of polished wood, like coals, pickings from a shipwreck, gifts from the waves . . . Everything exists in the word . . .From Memoirs by Pablo Neruda (NY: Penguin, 1974), p. 53.
A friend of mine asked me something today in the midst of conversation.
How are you? I continued on with small talk not fully answering the question.
How are you? A second time. More small talk.
How are you? Yes, a third time and quite the persistent friend.
I had to respond. Honestly. Without a smile to hide behind or chattering about my children or exchanging information about the weather. With three words asked three times, this person intuitively reached through space and forced me to turn the flashlight on
myself My Self. Yes, the misspelling was intentional (I know there’s grammar police watching). There’s something about shoving together my and self that can, at times, lead to overlooking our cores, our inner beings, ourselves Our Selves. When my and self are married, the word can be said too quickly. It can slip too easily off the tongue. When I dissected it and separated the word, I had to stop and think. How was My Self? My response necessitated an I. I was forced to define myself as I was. Not as how my hair was fixed or what color shirt I was wearing or if I had make-up on. I had to glance inwardly, look through my lens of awareness, and speak the truth.
How are you? Yes, it’s great that you are happily married or contentedly single or that you just got a new puppy or that your boss acknowledged your hard work with a raise.
How are you? Aside from having to shuffle your children to basketball or throw together a meal in thirty minutes or grade a stack of papers.
How are you? Really?
Words. We know them and use them. While some of us might have a better grasp on manipulating them, nearly all of us select language bites to express emotions or beliefs. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of words is:
1a : something that is said b plural (1) : talk, discourse
2a (1) : a speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning usually without being divisible into smaller units capable of independent use
Language and words are symbols. They point to things beyond themselves. They represent something (whatever it is we are attempting to convey). Again, the Merriam Webster dictionary states that to represent means:
1.to bring clearly before the mind : present <a book which represents the character of early America>
2: to serve as a sign or symbol of <the flag represents our country>
We, as humans, have the power to pick the words we want to utilize (we are kind of like super heroes with special powers). In the selection process, the words we choose either authenticate feelings and ideologies or mask them (in the latter, subverting those neutral words into falsehoods).
Today, how are we going to use words to represent what is real, true, authentic, right? How are we going to use our language powers for good and not evil? Most of us are aware of the damage and aftershocks that poorly chosen words affect. Again, I ask, how are we going to authenticate ourselves and build up others by using the gift of language to communicate empathy, kindness, and love towards others? What are we going to do to slam the door in the face of those words that harm others? That 3, 2, 1. . .detonate leaving behind a wake of destruction? We can do it (if our brains are functioning properly and we exhibit a fundamental capacity for language). The question is, will we represent?
I love writing and I write for a living. Yet, I still find myself compelled to use words to channel whatever muses are flirting with me at the moment. I have an on-going love affair with. . .words. So, really, I write to live and live to write. My life force cannot be divorced from getting down onto paper whatever must be there. It’s pure survival for me. If I’m not near my laptop, I’m scribbling thoughts onto paper. If no paper is present, I improvise and write on my hand. I have sat on a beach with the beautiful, soflo sun shining overhead and, having forgotten my pen, used my phone to text myself bits of prose that popped into my head. If there was a way to write while in the shower, I’d do so. Then there would be no need to try and remember what it was that came to me while shampooing my hair. Blogging is relatively new to me and I like it. It’s nice to occupy a piece of cyber space and express oneself. It is weird knowing anyone can read whatever is written (since I know some off the wall people) but those people do not mean anything to me (therefore, who cares)! There is much more I would like to write but am unable to because of life’s circumstances. This currently unpublished material should land me a gig as a script writer for Lifetime. In the meantime, some of the words I tap, scratch, and text into existence get published through this venue. Others do not. Blog world, readers, friends, and loved ones, welcome. I’m honored and happy you came. Do stay for a bit. Kick off your shoes, settle yourself on my couch, and enjoy a great cup of coffee. Sugar or creamer, anyone?
Okay, friends, I’m just flat out excited. In the creation of Mind Over Body, I have been fortunate to “meet” some incredible people (by “meet” I mean email contacts, phone etc. sometime, hopefully, in person.). Pete Ajello, obviously, is an absolute inspiration for so many people who are trying to accomplish their weight loss goals. He is a survivor who was determined to get his mind straight, clean up his life (in more ways than just food addictions), and help others. One of his mentors, Peter Tunney, a famous artist, philanthropist, and friend to Pete A., has literally (and figuratively) blown my socks off. Peter T. has been, for my buddy, Pete, the needle and thread who has woven his knowledge, artwork, truths, and spirituality into the fabric of Pete’s life. Mine, too, since I have had the pleasure of interacting with Peter Tunney. His words assisted my friend in his darkest hours. These insights still encourage Pete to move mountains. While Peter Tunney may not realize it, his words shed light on my own life and dark moments. They grab me, shake me, wake me into momentum. I am so blessed to be part of a project which, through a friend’s journey, I am swept along on this rollercoaster and am continually walking away with more insights, beauty, and light than I had prior to beginning this book project. Here’s to Pete and Peter T.! Cheers! You, two, are a couple of the most amazing guys I have known! Keep living with integrity and let your light shine for those of us struggling to get out of our tunnels!
Above are a couple of samples of Peter Tunney’s art. Mind Over Body was created by Peter Tunney specifically for Peter Ajello! Below is the speech that motivated Pete A. every day to just DO IT!
- To live in a great country, America
- To have given birth to a great boy and a great girl
- To have a great dad and a great mom
- To have a great brother, a great sis-in-law, a great niece and a great nephew
- To have great friends who love me
- To live in a great neighborhood
- To have my children attend great schools with great teachers
- To attend a great university with great professors
- To have great neighbors
- To have great aunts, great uncles, and great cousins
- To have a great grandmother
- To have great medicine, great doctors, great hospitals
- To have great women and great men who protect our nation
- To have great men and great women who devote their lives to public service
- To have great air conditioning in great South Florida
- To drink great coffee with great soy creamer every morning
- To have great sunrises and great sunsets
- To have great oceans, great trees, and be surrounded by great nature
- To have great hearing to listen to great music, great laughter, great people
- To have a mouth to speak great words
- To have great fingers to type great thoughts, great feelings, and great emotions
- To have a great-full heart that knows while life isn’t always great, it is always full
What are YOU great-full for?