By Jen Jeffrey
Long ago, in a faraway land called Childhood there lived a little girl with eyes like the distant stars. Their sparkle came with visions of the future and all the possibilities life offered. Every day was fresh and new with promises of tomorrow.
While the little girl’s father read the newspaper to learn of tomorrow, she read books about a little engine that could make it up a steep hill if only he believed in himself… about a little red hen who had to work if she wanted to eat fresh, warm bread… and about little red riding hood who went on a journey in the woods all by herself. That was all that the girl needed to know about life. She knew that if she worked hard, believed in herself and explored new things, she could do anything she wanted even if she were little.
When her mother had put a pencil in her small hand, the little girl was fascinated by the magic that it held. Each letter she formed had a sound and she could speak the sound to make the letter come alive.
As letters were combined they had made words that meant something – and when she put the words together it was as if she was aboard the little engine that could, traveling uphill and downhill, around the bend and on far long journeys. There was no limit to what she could do or where she could go!
Then as the pencil was taken from her left hand and placed in her right hand while told, “This is the correct way,” the little girl’s letters were not as pretty, but she knew if she practiced ‘the correct way’ that maybe she would be able to do better as she went.
The other children bellyached over having to write stories, but the little girl was always overjoyed. She never observed her classmates staring at the ceiling trying to come up with what to say or talking amongst each other out of boredom. Her hand was busy with words as they flowed like the river. There was so much to say, so much to share and she wanted others to see what it was that she saw.
Words would enter through her ears, through her eyes and through anything she touched. She breathed in words and she tasted words – the words multiplied inside her body until they began to spill from her cheeks and thrust out with her laughter. They dripped from her hair and ran across her face. In wonderment, they bolted from her fingers as she pointed far and away.
She was certain that everyone could read her words she lived – they were just so plain to see. She didn’t mind if they saw her words, for she lived out loud and had nothing to hide. She wanted them to see the beauty that she saw. She wanted them to laugh at things they had missed. Sometimes she could speak her words, but mostly she liked to write them. They were important because they made people take their time when they were in such a hurry.
When she learned what shapes could do that accompanied the words, causing her words to whisper or shout for joy; make them slow down or to ponder … her pen would become a mighty wand in which to lead a symphony.
Teachers applauded the little girl’s words and as she grew, her words were not required so much. This saddened the little girl who had become a young woman and then she had little ones of her own. Yet the words did not leave her as she penned in private, just for her pleasure alone. When her sons could hold the magic wood or even a magic marker – her joy was full once again as she knew she could pass along her words and they had purpose.
Change had come with still more change. Soon the woman’s words became busy and hurried adding numbers to the long, tiring days. Her words that were demanded by others didn’t have beauty or laughter or insight – they were blank words with dollar signs that strangled her from time to time.
With all the beautiful words stashed away in a trunk, some with beauty and some with pain – the woman’s hair did not drip with words and her cheeks did not spill them. The laughter was gone and the words were forgotten. No longer could people see her words, for they had stopped flowing in the numbness of her soul.
As the magic wand changed, so did the woman’s surroundings, she remembered the little girl she used to be – the little girl who could… the little girl who had to work to make things happen and the little girl who would explore.
All of a sudden the trunk flew open and all of the trapped words were released!
Some words floated out the window while some of them entered her heart, but more importantly – new words came and their purpose was founded. The woman became stronger and her words were commanding …yet they could penetrate the hearts and minds of mere strangers – strangers who were just friends that she hadn’t met yet.
Those new friends opened doors and the woman took her time walking through. She made sure to give and she made sure to receive, each and every word along her new journey.
She would be ever grateful for each step along the way, each person who touched her or held open the doors. She was sincere with her words and careful with her words, but most of all …she knew the worth of her words. Never again would she lose them…
…for they hold the promises of tomorrow.