This I Believe: The Power of the Written Word

Christina - Albany, New York
Entered on September 11, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: creativity

The proposition of the question “what do you believe in?” led to my head reeling and my fingers grazing my cell phone in a rush to send out telephone calls and text messages to everyone I know, desperately searching for an answer to what I believe. My mother told me to write about Jesus, a suggestion I giggled at. Although I think Jesus was probably a really cool guy, I’m not religious at all. I can honestly say I have no religious beliefs. My friends all gave me ridiculous answers I disregarded immediately. After this charade, upon reading a book in my room, I came to the realization that there is only one thing I truly believe in. This I believe: that words carry a certain power unknown to other forms of communication when written down.

The written word is absolutely fascinating. The way authors stick certain words together in ways tragic or hilarious just amazes me. For example, people read cartoons in the newspapers to gain a few giggles. People read to lose themselves as well, to go elsewhere when life isn’t particularly awesome at the time. One of the most striking examples I can think of is the Harry Potter series: hundreds of pages describing in detail life as a wizard, where the protagonist has hardcore fights with evil as well as all the drama of teenage days. Some people read simply because it’s beautiful. I often carry around books of poetry in an attempt to change my day. The words of e.e.cummings and Anne Sexton speak to me, and I occasionally find a piece that feels like it’s been written just for me. The connection one can find within words is a great feeling. It’s like the writer reaches out as to say, “You’re not alone, kid.”

I myself am a woman of words, that’s the way it’s always been. Even as a young girl, I can remember wanting the ability to put words together in gorgeous ways, trying my best to make poetry and evoke a slew of emotions in normal people just going about their everyday life. I remember being in tenth grade in high school. I had an assignment to write a two-page story on anything, as long as I used a quote from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. As I am a huge nerd, I went beyond and used about five Beckett quotes in an eight-page love story. For some strange reason one of my classmates convinced me to read my short story aloud in class. So I did, skipping some of the duller parts, reading mainly the beginning and the end. I remember when I was finished the class stared at me for a moment. Mind you, I went to an all-girls private Catholic high school, and I really wasn’t a big fan of the majority of the cookie cutter girls who took up space in my classes. But then they clapped, and one of my peers, who just so happened to be one of the girls I really didn’t like, raised her hand and told me that she almost cried while I was reading. What a rush! Apparently I have the same superpowers as my idols, those who write. After that day I gained a lot more respect for the girls of the Academy of the Holy Names, for I realized that it’s really not just me — everyone is affected by words. Though some people are affected more profoundly than others, we will all clap when it’s over and sit in quiet contemplation of the fact that beauty still exists amongst our mundane world within the realm of words.