Sunday, June 21, 2020

Collect Words Like They're Money

Words are like currency, for Charlotte the spider and April the writer.
Although the book and all subsequent movies about Charlotte's Web make me cry, there's one thing about all of it that has always inspired me.  Maybe a couple things.  

First, Charlotte was a devoted friend to Wilbur.  And at the end of my life, I hope that at least for someone, I am remembered as being as devoted a friend to them as Charlotte was to Wilbur.

And then, there's the way that Charlotte would send Templeton out looking for words.  She collected those words like they were dollar bills.  That's what I've always done.  

I laugh when friends tell me "You know too many words!"  I agree, although I don't think it's "too many."  

The same way having a wealth of dollars gives you more options than when you don't have a wealth of dollars, having a wealth of words to know and share gives you more options than when you have a limited vocabulary.  

Do I sometimes forget myself and throw down a five-dollar word to someone who doesn't have a word-wallet as fat as mine?  All the time.  All the time!  And then hopefully they're comfortable enough with me to say "what's that word mean?" and then they'll have a five-dollar word for their word-wallet, too!  Or, if they're not that comfortable around me, I always hope that if I do toss out a word they don't know, that they'll ask Siri later on.  Either way, they get to learn a new five-dollar word and I get to keep my knowledge of it.

That's the really cool thing about words as currency.  I can share my big words and still have them, and the person I share the big words with gets to have them.  So instead of spending a word and having it leave my word-wallet and go into someone else's, we're doubling the word money!

So the way I built up my outsized vocabulary over the years- and we're talking decades at this point, is that every time I'd learn a new word, I'd collect it like it was money.  I still do this.  Sometimes I make flashcards of new words, so there's a literal physical thing I can refer to.  I also use the word a lot.  Practice makes a new word part of you.  It's practical experience.  

Sometimes, I do get made fun of for having a big vocabulary.  I get weird looks, using big words.  It's okay.  I used to be self-conscious about this, too.  It hurt to be called a nerd and a bookworm.  I didn't want to be the nerdy girl or the bookworm girl.  I wanted to be the pretty girl, the cool girl, the girl people wanted to be around.  And then somewhere along the way, I realized that I wasn't going to be everybody's flavor, no matter what I did, and knowing and using big words (as well as big ideas, big statements, big love) that's who I am.  And the people who are okay with all that are my tribe and we'll find each other.  

And I will use my big words and write my love for them in spiderwebs, and droplets of morning dew, and I will write it in the very stars themselves.

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