The Power of Words
Martin Luther King once gave a speech that began with the memorable words “I have a dream”. When man landed on the moon it was considered “…one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” So it was said. And I believe in the power of words.
Now, in my braver moments I consider myself a poet. I know there is a power in words. Otherwise how would I explain the fact we’ve all had moments where we’ve said things and then wanted to instantly take them back. That is the power of words, and none of us is immune or untouched.
In a class I once took it was said that in naming a thing you release its power over you. I know there are two words that have power over me. One word is a secret I guard from everyone, everyday. That word is homeless. For 3 months now I’ve found myself among the lost souls, all searching for hope or caring, or redemption, or love, in a world where sometimes not only people, but entire lives, slip through the cracks. I stay in a mission. My home address is a P.O. Box.
That other word is pride. I believe there are two kinds of it. The first kind forces me to keep my homelessness a closely guarded secret to protect my sensitive self image and my ego. A guy named Henry Miller once said, “I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive.” I know that in writing this and reading this aloud, that the bags I carry are lighter. I can understand Miller’s feeling. I know I’m freer now. And that is the power of words.
The second kind of pride is born through hardships and struggle. It does not come from your head but from your heart, from the human spirit. While at the mission, I found the words that lit a fire, helping me to grit my teeth and set me on my way, with more resolve than I began with. It was William Ernest Henley who told me:
It matters not how strait the gate
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Just to say the words “I am the captain of my soul”…my heart moves. There is a power there, a peace there, a home there. So when it is said that “Home is where the heart is.” I know my heart is not in a building and cannot be given an address. I like to think my heart is here, in these words.
Inside of all the poems I have written,
With the poets I have read,
Even scenes of movies I’ve seen
Or quotes other people have said.
I know I’ve always had home,
Buried in the things I heard,
I believe in my mission,
The place, my purpose,
I believe in the power of words.
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