Word Pressure

I’ve been thinking about the way I speak, even the way I write. There are so many words that come pouring out of me and if uncapped, they could go on for quite some time. The funny thing is that most of them have already been edited down in some way. What I say is usually thoughtful, and yet there’s so much of it. I can’t condense.

I tend to sit on my words. They’ll be in my head for a long time. I find sharing my thoughts to be difficult. Usually it’s because people won’t listen. When they do decide to hear me, there isn’t enough time to get out what needs to be said.

You know what I hate? People asking, “What’s wrong?” or “What are you thinking about?” when they clearly only have time forr a two-second response. We both know that your question was merely a formality. Why do the rules of politeness so often leave me feeling more offended than I would have been without them?

Maybe it’s because people seem to have stopped saying what they mean. In my case, if I can’t find the words to say what I mean, I will often choose to say nothing at all. That doesn’t mean that the words go away. They’re still in my head.

In The Phantom Tollbooth, there’s a chapter in which Milo, the principle character, goes into a land without sound. All the sound has been taken from the population by their queen, as a sort of punishment. She keeps the Sound in her castle, and it becomes Milo’s duty to sneak a sound out of the castle and into the land, to restore everything. He tries to slip sounds into his pockets, but the queen catches him each time. Then he tries to protest something, beginning to say the word “but–” when the queen cuts him off, and he realizes that the word is still in his mouth. Milo keeps that “but” in his mouth until he gets back outside, whereupon he releases it and sound comes crashing back into the land, demolishing the queen’s castle.

I think that’s what happens with the words in my head. Some of them have been kept here for days and weeks, some months and years, and eventually they have to find their way out. It’s like a dam bursting, one that I cannot seem to control, but can only guide with syntax and editing, and bits of style. I can’t condense. I may never be able to. Not until people start listening, and the buildup decreases, anyway.


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