Giving Thanks for Words

Every day I find something to be grateful for, even if it’s only that the sun is shining, that the pain of loss is muted, that I once had a great love, that I have open spaces to explore (both in my head and in the world). Even when all else seemed bleak these past nineteen months, even when I had no hope, there was always something to be grateful for (most often that my mate was no longer suffering), so I don’t need to set aside a special day of thanksgiving.

Still, during this season of giving thanks, there is something I am especially grateful for, something worth celebrating . . . words.

Words convey thoughts, ideas, hopes from one person to another. They connect us from continent to continent, enabling us to bond with like-minded people all around the world. I have exchanged words — and friendship — with people from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Nederlands, India. And for this I am grateful.

Words allow us to read and to write, to find entertainment and enlightenment in worlds created out of nothing but letters strung together. Words allow a story, concocted in one mind, to come to full realization in another. For most of my life, these worlds of words have been my life, or at least a major part of it. Now that I too am a world-creator, I am grateful for the words with which I build my stories.

Words give comfort, especially when distance (either geographic or emotional) does not allow a touch of commiseration. I am especially grateful for all the words of encouragement you (the readers of this blog) have given me during my time of grief, words that touched me. I hope some of my words touched you.

Words mean hope. With words, there is always the hope that we will be able to come to an understanding of each other, and perhaps find peace. (Of course, people would have to shut up long enough to listen to each other’s words; one-way words cause conflict and confusion.)

Words mean community and continuity. Words, both spoken and written, presuppose that there is someone to listen, and that is community. Telling our his-stories and her-stories to each other creates both community and continuity. They tell us who we were, who we are, and who we hope to become.

If there were no one to hear our words, if we existed solely in ourselves, we’d still need words to communicate our feelings and ideas to ourselves. This ability to put our thoughts into words gives us the power to know ourselves and to understand greater truths.

So this week, whether you celebrate the U.S. Thanksgiving or not, stop for a moment to give thanks for words. They are we.

25 Responses to “Giving Thanks for Words”

  1. T Scott Says:

    Says a true wordsmith…nice post

  2. Rod Marsden Says:

    I like ideas more than words but words have been my stock in trade for ages now so they are important to me. The more Americans who reach out this year and in the coming years to people living else in the world the better. Have a great thanksgiving.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Rod, here’s a question for you: can you have ideas without words? Don’t words help transpose unformed concepts into ideas?

      Happy Thanksgiving! Odd, but I get more Thanksgiving wishes from people in countries who don’t celebrate this holiday (or don’t celebrate it on this day) than people who do.

      • Rod Marsden Says:

        Pat, The Chinese and the Japanese form pictures in their minds before the words materialize. Though not Asian I do something like that myself. Words are still very important to me..

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          That’s interesting. I don’t conceptualize in images. I’m not sure I conceptualize in words, either, which is probably why they are so important to me. They help coalesce the nebulous concepts floating around beneath my consciousness.

  3. James Rafferty Says:

    Pat, you wield words with a deft touch. Thanks for your continuing great work hosting the No Whine Just Champagne writing group, which is all about words and what we like to do with them as writers. And I’ve enjoyed both of your novels that I read, so thanks for that. All the best for Thanksgiving.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you, James. I always look forward to your participation in the No Whine, Just Champagne discussions. You have such insights into writing, life, and the writing life.

  4. Deborah J Ledford Says:

    Thanks for the words, indeed. And I give thanks to you as well, Pat. It is an honor to be your friend.

  5. joylene Says:

    Yes, thank you, words. And for my grandfather who was never able to read or write, thank you for the books his children read to him.

    Happy words, Pat.

  6. J. Conrad Guest Says:

    Wise words, Pat.

    Although wars are often started the result of a misunderstanding of words, they (words) are necessary to convey thoughts and feelings. If we would just take more care in communicating—I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard people say, “That’s not what I meant”—the world would be a much more harmonious place.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Good points, J. Conrad. One-way words are not just the result of the recipient not listening, but the speaker not using the words properly. Thank you for your comment!

  7. Norm Brown Says:

    Great article, Pat. Your words were well chosen.

  8. Coco Ihle Says:

    I totally agree with Norm. “Great article, Pat. Your words were well chosen!” Good job!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you, as well.

  9. Sherrie Hansen Says:

    Wise words, well said. Happy Thanksgiving, Pat.

  10. dellanioakes Says:

    Wonderful post, Pat. So true! I too am thankful for words!

  11. christinehusom Says:

    I, too, am grateful for words–especially when I find the right ones. But when I listen to songs I don’t know, it is the music I listen to, over the words. I often think in images, in feelings, and finding the right words can be a challenge. I love listening to people talk, for both the sound and the words. But when I don’t know the language they’re using, it is for the sound.

    I think of the Tower of Babel story in the Old Testament. The people had one language, but when God confused the languages, their project ended. Words are important!

    Thanks, Pat, for your continued support of writers and their writings!

  12. Where Would We Be Without Words? | Bertram's Blog Says:

    […] this isn’t going to be a laudatory post about the wonder of words. I’ve written that here: Giving Thanks for Words. Instead, I want to explore the possibility that words are creating us as much as we are creating […]

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