"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Calm words

“Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
That’s simply not true, is it? Words can hurt, can break you, worse than any physical pain. But they can also boost your spirits.
That’s because words are spoken or written pictures of ideas, of experiences, and memories. And in these tumultuous times, i need words that calm me, that make me remember what is really important.
So what words comfort you most?
Let me guess. I think “Mother,” or “Mom,” or “Momma” would have to be the most common, most universal in soothing the emotions. Just by reading this sentence, you’ve triggered uncountable images and memories. It may be the last word you utter too.
What else?
Maybe “Dad.” Or perhaps “Son,” or “Daughter.”
Beyond those, here are some of mine.
“Grandad!” When I hear that, my blood pressure goes down, my face lights up. Stress disappears. All the things that seemed important or worrisome just fade.
Meadow. I see a mountain field full of green grass, speckled with wildflowers. Cool air. Quiet.
Recess. Remember those special times in elementary school. Everybody loved recess. I think adults would be better off if we still had recess and went out on the playground to swing every day.
Nap. Same memories, right?
Hum. Remember Mom humming to you in the rocking chair, trying to get you to go to sleep? Or you doing the same with your own kids?
Coo. The sound of a baby gurgling, or a Mourning Dove. Blood pressure goes down, doesn’t it?
Puppy dog. Remember how it wags its tail, chews on socks, licks you in the face, is always glad to see you?
Friend. Whose face came into your head when you read that word? Did you smile?
Speaking of smile, how can you be tense when you think of smiling—somebody’s radiant face, glowing with happiness, white teeth glistening.
Thanks. What a smile-producing word.
Joke. Hear that word, and your ears perk up, wanting to hear, waiting to laugh.
Sunset. Can you see the colors—red and orange and yellow—warm and reflecting off clouds, as part of the sky turns purple.
Home. You can see it can’t you? The place where you grew up, or where your reared your own children. Your place, your haven.
Harmony, a tune, one that’s running through your head right now, relaxing you…whether it’s Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, or Amazing Grace, or Battle Hymn of the Republic or Ghost Riders in the Sky, or Danny Boy, or….
Have these words calmed you? That’s the point.
What words are special to you?

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