Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Sticks, Stones and Excalibur

“Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words will break your heart.”  How many among us endured childhood teasing and then were told that words could never hurt us?  Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s simply not true.


Linda McCartney altered the famous nursery rhyme in an interview when asked how she felt about the comments that critics made about her.  She finished by saying “…but you have to learn not to care.”  I agree, in that we have a choice to buck up and try to let hateful comments roll off our backs, but it has also been my experience that poison still has a sneaky way of seeping into cracks and doing a bit of damage, no matter how tough we try to be.


Throughout history words have been compared to some pretty painful weapons, such as “The tongue is mightier than the blade” (Euripides), “Many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose quills” (Shakespeare), “Go on doing with your pen, what was once done with the sword” (Thomas Jefferson) and by 1839 the phrase “The pen is mightier than the sword” showed up in a play by Edward Bulwer-Lytton – we may not remember the playwright’s name, but we all know his words by heart.


When I speak to elementary school kids, one of my favorite things to share with them is that the ability to read and write is like having superpowers.  Words are the all powerful tools that make up the important documents and speeches that affect the world.  Words have the strength to lift souls, heal hearts and alleviate worried minds.  They can also start arguments or worse yet, wars.


There have been days when I sit with a cup of tea and let my mind wander back in time to things that were said to me and the effects that still linger, good and bad.  Comments made from the time I was a little girl through to my teen years that helped shaped my self-esteem (good and bad) and opinions (good and bad). 


Equally as powerful, I think, are words left unsaid.  People gone from our lives too soon, without proper goodbyes or apologies made.  Immediate glances between strangers that speak volumes of compassion, contempt or passion in seconds.


As a big fan of words, I love to read them, write them, speak them and hear them but even more so when care is taken to not use them as weapons.  Not that I think people should pussyfoot around not say what they mean.  I just think there should be more thought given to what you say before words tumble from your mouth, fingers or fountain pen.


I have been guilty, especially in my younger years, of shooting my mouth off before I’d really thought about what I said.  Those words bother me still and I wish they’d never left my lips.


It is an ongoing effort to choose words carefully, to harm none.  Legend has it that one side of Excalibur, the sword of King Arthur, was inscribed with the words “take me up” and the other “cast me away”.  Maybe this legendary sword is the one that our words should aim to rise above, carefully choosing to use words that lift others up, throwing away the ones with the power to break hearts.

Leave a Reply