Gwendolyn Brooks once referred to poetry as “life distilled”. A poem can take the convolutions of life and boil it down into a condensed packet of emotion. Complexity transformed to simplicity. I love that. I think that’s why I so enjoy quotes as well. They are very complex concepts, distilled into something ostensibly simple. I see them as the prose equivalent of poetry.
When I take a step back from the things I write, I see several patterns. There are certain thoughts/fears that seem to recurrently bubble to the surface. This quote highlights one of them and seems quite apropos to a community of writers.
We all have a narrative. A story we tell the world to explain ourselves to others, and a deeper one we use to explain ourselves to our self. There’s the manifest content. You can tell the story, and any decent listener can paraphrase it back to you with an understanding of the course of events. However, there is a much deeper latent content that is so intertwined with our unique personal journey, that it’s almost as if it’s written in another language. A singular language camouflaged by the normal words it’s comprised of. When I reference “the smell of sand”, anyone who can read English knows what that means… but each of use bring a frame of reference (or none) to the table that completely alters the emotional meaning and thus alters the experience and the story before and after.
In my experience, feeling misunderstood, or even completely anonymous, is shared human experience. There’s a void that separates us from everyone, and words are our only tools to bridge that divide. Words that mean a little something different to all who hear them. So we write, and we read, and we try and we hope that someone will hear us, and someone will understand our language or, at least, be willing to learn it.