This past weekend, with Irwin out of town, I spent most of my time catching up on work while our youngest began to work in earnest on his college essays. As we both sat working on our computers, I observed my son struggling to capture his thoughts and best articulate them within a maximum word count and I was struck by the precious nature of each word we utter as well as write.
As an active participant in Social Media on Twitter and FaceBook as well as being a blog writer, I understand the significance of accounting for the written word. But what about the words we speak? What if they were subjected to a word count as well? Despite the fact that I have actively adopted and have been working on a slow home way of life inside and out, I have not yet confronted the editing of my spoken-word; a task that I find a bit intimidating.
While be limited to 140 characters, I've still racked up over 14,000 tweets
I always try to limit posts to a single typed page
Perhaps if we had a word cap on our spoken word, we would take more care with what we said. Maybe we should consider a word allowance similar to the speed limit on a highway, or the calorie count of a diet. Having a maximum word limit along with a minimum limit would afford us the ability to strike a better balance between excess and deficiency.
Should we apply these to our spoken-Word?
It would be an immense relief, at least for me, to improve my self-editing of the spoken word. What I would give to not fall victim to excessive word use while always being assured of using a minimum amount of words to guard against leaving necessary things unsaid. It would be like attaining “word nirvana”.
I already know that this is more easily written than said, so I attempt to devise an experiment to see if it is actually possible to monitor and limit the words I use in my daily verbal dialogue. Although it is physically possible to count the words that leave my mouth; that kind of concentration is going to so drastically alter everything I will say, that just thinking about it is generating angst.
A spoken word experiment: More easily written than said
Feeling that kind of anxiety is more telling than any experiment I could possibly enact and I immediately know that this level of achievement is much more difficult than I had even imagined. This startling realization clearly illustrates the substantial difference between the written and oral word and how differently we process and deliver each.
I have always preached the “five second rule” to my children but, as in several of my preaching categories, I do not do as good a job in practice. I am at a loss and am hoping to wake up tomorrow morning with some startling self-realization.
I left this post unfinished last night because honestly, I didn’t know how it should end. This morning, however, I realize that there is no definitive ending; at least not for the moment. What I did remember this morning as I put up the coffee, was to be mindful of my spoken word. So relieved to not be the subject of my own experiment, I felt an unexpected exhilaration, like I had just been granted new empowerment.
And maybe that is precisely the point. If we simply acknowledge the supreme responsibility of being the keepers of the spoken word, we are on our way. And, much like a calorie or speed limit count, if we measure the amount and quality of the words we choose, then maybe, just maybe we have the chance to achieve “word nirvana”; making every word count.