On the Edge of Common Sense
September 3, 2020
They were just words.
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Reagan to Gorbachev at the Brandenburg Gate, 1987
“Chance of rain.” Weatherman in Louisiana before Hurricane Katrina, 2005.
“Give me liberty or give me death.” Patrick Henry, 1775
“I wish I’d never read this book... so I could read it again for the first time”. Dan Trimble about Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea”. 1992
“The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank.” Erma Bombeck. 1976
We often underestimate the value of words. “Good job, son.” “Best cobbler I ever ate.” “Did you paint that yourself?” “I’m really proud of you.” “Thank ya, Love.”
We underestimate their power. “You shouldn’t a let that kid beat ya.” “Maybe you should lose some weight, Hon.” “You should’a tried harder.” “Not again, they’ve heard those stories before.” “You do that everytime!”
There are people whose opinions we truly value. There are people whose praise we’d die for. They are often two different things. Sometimes we genuinely would like to improve ourselves. “Yer lettin’ your rope go too soon.” “Give him his head.” “Always check the hind feet when you set him up.”
Sometimes we just need encouragement. “You did the best you could.” “You looked like you won from where I sat.” “It sure runs better after you worked on it.”
Most everyone is the most important person in someone’s life. It is no small responsibility. It should be a crime if we don’t realize and recognize that importance because what you say can have such long lasting effect.
“I believe you got the makin’s of a world champion.” Kaycee Field’s dad.
“I know you can do it, but be careful.” Gus Grissom’s wife, Apollo I crew.
“Believe in yourself.” Martin Luther King’s Sunday School teacher.
“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country...” JFK
“Write about what you know.” My college English professor after giving me an F on a poem I wrote for a class assignment.
“You’ll never amount to anything.” Too many of us, too many times.
Words... like burrs under a blanket, like nails in a coffin.
Like a single match in a sea of gasoline.