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Painting by W. Stein

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” — Toni Morrison

*

“Heal yourself with the light of the sun and the rays of the moon.
With the sound of the river and the waterfall.
With the swaying of the sea and the fluttering of birds.
Heal yourself with mint, neem, and eucalyptus.
Sweeten with lavender, rosemary, and chamomile.
Hug yourself with the cocoa bean and a hint of cinnamon.
Put love in tea instead of sugar and drink it looking at the stars.
Heal yourself with the kisses that the wind gives you
and the hugs of the rain.
Stand strong with your bare feet on the ground and
with everything that comes from it.
Be smarter every day by listening to your intuition,
looking at the world with your forehead.
Jump, dance, sing, so that you live happier.
Heal yourself, with beautiful love, and always remember …
you are the medicine.”’

~ María Sabina, Mexican healer and poet -

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Words are timeless. You should utter them or write them with a knowledge of their timelessness.

Khalil Gibran

Words are more than a communication code; in the hands of a real poet they can touch the soul. We have art, we humans, as a way of speaking to and about the soul’s experiences and yearning for a living reality. Depth in living isn’t common in the so-called civilized way of living. Some of us sense something missing but our lifestyle is so buried under cultural detritus we can live an entire lifetime never discovering why we’re alive.

Thank God we have art. We have creative people who keep a determined focus on the essentials of beauty and the deeper questions. Miraculous worlds of inspiration can be created by words. It’s an astonishing human capacity to tell stories that can change lives. We can infect people with words arranged just the right way. We can also inoculate them and inspire their better angels. Words have power.

Vocabulary constitutes a library of reflections, perceptions and ideas that enables insight, the broader and deeper the better. We can hardly see the world if we have a limited vocabulary.

English is a big language, cobbled together from Greek, Latin, French, Anglo-Saxon, German and others. Its roots are extensive. It’s especially useful in science, business and mechanics, although its literature is impressive. It can’t express everything but it can express a lot.

When you learn a second language you will suddenly discover that your native language has blind spots, that it has no words for certain things because it doesn’t see them. You realize you don’t see some very real things because your native culture doesn’t see them. Learning another language helps you develop a broader experience of things, a broader vision. Those things that are lost in translation are only lost to you if you’re a monolingual person.

An artist, regardless of medium, has to develop a vocabulary. A painter has a vocabulary of colors and forms. A writer has a mental repertory, a vocabulary of both the physical and spiritual worlds, even if the words used are kept simple. Writing at a fourth grade level is not the same thing as thinking at a fourth grade level. Hemmingway proved that.

If we’re going to communicate, we need the right tools for the job. A writer needs to love language. Any artist needs to love her tools. It’s basic. If we are to do anything well, it’s essential to assemble the right tools for what you need to express. Love has to be woven through your enterprise from top to bottom.

If you’re inspired by the tools of your trade, it’s probably because you have something to express and you can hardly wait to get started.

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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