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1000 Words

 

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1000 Words

by John C. Dupré.

It’s been said a picture is worth a thousand words; that a single image can drive a point home far easier than text. And there’s a good reason for that. In his book, Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina discusses how vision trumps all our other senses; how when we pair a picture with information, we are 65% more likely to retain that information than if we were to hear it alone.

Reading is work for the brain. It has to take all these letters, combine them into words, recall the meaning of those words, figure out the context for them as it combines them into sentences and derives meaning from what we read. It’s hard work. It’s time consuming. It’s open to interpretation or misunderstanding if we cannot draw from the same mental library as the writer.

And yet.

People love to read. Myself included. And presumably you do too, if you’re taking the time out of your day to see these tiny letters, rearrange them in your head, and “hear” me speaking to you from across time and space (since you’re not with me as I’m writing this, and thus my present will be my past in your future when you read this).

So why is this?

Perhaps the better question is: Why Is This Important? We treasure the words of our poets, of our writers, of our orators. Pictures and artwork move us, but we still come back to words for meaning. We communicate through words—whether spoken by our fictional heroes, our friends, our family, or our favorite vloggers. Words give us a framework; a way to build any picture we want when we have no way of doing so otherwise.

One small step for a man, One giant leap for mankind. (Neil Armstrong.)

I have a dream… (Martin Luther King)

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. (Eleanor Roosevelt.)

What do those words evoke for you? What kind of pictures do they form? If a picture is worth a 1000 words; can you also use 1000 words to create a picture that can only be formed in the mind’s eye? One that resonates with a person beyond any other “seen” picture, because it is one they formed themselves?

Perhaps we treasure our wordsmiths and immortalize their words because they use their skills—and make no mistake, writing is a skill, that is honed and molded by experience and effort and passion—to share their vision, but in a way that readers can view in their own way.

If I were to tell you, “I’m a little teapot, short and stout; here is my handle, here is my spout,” what would you picture?

Depending on what you’ve experienced in your life, this teapot could be a colorful cartoon like Mrs. Potts in Disney’s animated classic, Beauty and the Beast; a fragile bit of china like Mrs. Potts in the live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast; a brown smiling Buddha with a spout coming out of his belly (believe it or not, I have a teapot that looks like this); a black whistling kettle; or something else entirely. Words help us form pictures.

So we must choose our words wisely. We must treat them with respect. We must give them their due.

It’s been said that the pen is mightier than the sword. That words can be used as weapons. That they can wound.

Why?

Because words matter; because they can be MORE than just words.

What picture comes to mind when I say, “Girl.”

Do you think of an eight-year old having a tea party with her dolls? A princess? A sassy little thing who likes gymnastics, or dancing, or pageants? A budding young scientist to be? Or perhaps someone suffering on the other side of the world, who could be helped with your spare change.

With the words I chose, I created pictures for you; pictures that may have resembled your own pictures, or completely different ones. Now search the internet for a video by Mayim Bialek, where she talks about how language matters, how words are important, how the word “girl” can be used in a completely different context. Go on. My words will still be here.

How did that make you feel? Angry? Humbled? Thoughtful?

Words did that. Words hacked into your brain and made you feel. Words moved you.

Words are treasures. And a picture is worth 1000 of these treasures. So it is our RIGHT and our RESPONSIBILITY to take these treasures and build pictures of awe, of hope, of inspiration, of dreams, of a future we want to make real, of love, of peace, of joy, of all the things we want for our children, and our children’s children, and all those souls who come after us.

That’s not to say we can’t share our sorrows, or chronicle the darkness, or warn and persuade and rebuke. Of course, we can do this. We MUST do this. Words are meant to be used and shared. And the future depends on learning from the past. But we must do so with dignity, with respect, with awareness of the possibilities and consequences of our actions.

That is how we thrive, how we advance, how we transcend and become more than we are. This is a fundamental part of what makes us human: we build pictures with our words and we share them.

Now think about sharing your words. 1000 of them. What would you CHOOSE to say? What picture would you want me to see, or others to see? What words would you want to live on after you?

Share those words.

Share YOUR words. YOUR vision. YOURSELF.

Share for those who have no words, or for those whose words fail them. Share light to combat the darkness of those who harm with their words. And propel us forward into a new world—a better world—that we can all see, and feel, and experience: TOGETHER. Through words.

Copyright © 2017 John C. Dupré. All rights reserved.