Thursday, March 17, 2016

Train Narratives

One of the things I've noticed lately is just how important the words are that we use to shape our narrative. For instance, when the Man comes home, I can describe my day as awful or challenging. Using "awful" as my descriptor leaves a bad taste in both our mouths as well as portraying me as the victim. "Challenging", on the other hand, is empowering and opens things up for a discussion.

To put it slightly differently, I can tell you I was a bad driver and once ran over a stop sign or I can engage you with a fascinating story about a stop sign (which is not a stationary object) that jumped out in front of my car.

The words we use matter. They shape our experiences, providing a frame for our narrative. They have an impact, not only on the listener and how they feel when they walk away, but on us as well. The words we choose to use (and it is a choice: it doesn't just happen) define who we are. They let us know what we truly believe and feel.

This week I've been thinking about that in regard to the train that goes by the base. The Little Man and I have been reading a lot of poetry lately so, as I was last week, I've found myself writing poetry while I run (and sometimes late at night when I'm trying to fall asleep). These two were both the product of such creativity and stood in such sharp contrast that I'd thought to share them with you. The subject matter is the same but the words used resonate in very different ways.

It rumbles,
Roaring like a timpani,
The sound rolling out to meet me:
Get out of my way
I'm faster than you!
But it always trails off in a whimper.


My heart hears the train in the night
And it's lonely
And the cars on the track are hurried
Yet hesitant
And the whistle in the wind wails wild.
The dark wraps around with its silence
While my heart hears the train in the night.

My heart hears the train
And it's lonely.
My heart (lonely, lonely)
My heart (lonely, lonely)

And still...

One last thought on words: if we ourselves have trouble deciding which words to use in order to frame our narrative, and we pick carefully because one day we want to project strength and another day softness, shouldn't we make the assumption that others are making those choices too? And perhaps give them a bit of grace on the days they pick the wrong words to express the soul within?

One morning the train sounds brash and bold, the next it's lost in loneliness. We've all been there. Choose your words wisely, and give a little grace.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, but is your heart beating like a tom-tom? Sorry, I couldn't resist. I think you are right about the importance of words. That's why I analyze every word when writing tense emails. And you are good at words.