I love the English language. It is by far my favorite thing about having a brain. It is my soap box when I am feeling righteously indignant. I can stand on the eloquence of my forefathers and spew from the top of my lungs my political incorrectness and socially acceptable stances on such subjects as gun control, hunter’s rights, tax reform, higher standards for education, and health care reform. Whether my views and opinions are readily accepted by the masses or deflated with the fervor of another’s soap box; my voice can be heard in all its 26-letter glory.
The English language is my pulpit when I am feeling the moment’s expectation to preach compassion and equality to my fellow man. I can quote from parables and prophets; I can recite song and verse all toward the ultimate goal of bringing about a kinder, gentler approach to friend and foe. I can ease into confrontation with mutual respect and an acceptance of the right to free-flowing idealism.
It is also my podium to teach. It is my opportunity to enliven discussions in areas that I have special knowledge and experience. It is also the place from which I raise my hand with an inquiring mind and an eager soul. It is my chance to demonstrate my strengths and learn from my weaknesses. It is my gateway to remembering history and my toolbox toward not repeating it.
Nouns, adjectives, verbs, conjunctions… they all give me the eloquence to gently comfort a child in a moment of sadness and to celebrate with that same child in a moment of triumphant jubilation. The words, these phrases we use, offer us keys to unlocking the mystery of a perfectly delivered punch line and an equally revealing climax to a ghost story told by campfire light.
English language prose allows me the freedom to create new worlds, interesting characters, and captivating scenes to put them in. Story lines drip from my imagination in sentences and paragraphs leading readers down a murky path of intrigue… through the confiding vulnerabilities of a love triangle gone horribly wrong … or entangled with rapture through the under-the-table dealings of provocative political conspiracies.
There is no inherent leniency to what can be written… no limits to what can be said. No moral obligation or rule of law that dictates if we are to speak or to be silent. We are certainly fortunate to have this wondrous gift.
So, with all this wealth of communication at my disposal, tell me, why is it so difficult to find just the right words to comfort a dear friend who has just been devastated by the mangling of his heart after twenty-five years of devotion and loyalty? Which are the right words to express my deep sympathy and simultaneous rage?
Where is the manual of style that permits me the strong supportive nurturing phrases while gently denying my complete disdain for the wrong perpetrated against him without slandering the one he loves? The simple phrase, “I’m so sorry” just doesn’t seem to convey enough of the emotional fortitude due him. My mastery of the English language suddenly reveals itself to be weak in its conveyance.
Yes, I am completely enamored with the English language. Yet I have discovered there are still many of its nuances left for me to discover and punctuate. And so, disappointingly, “I am so very sorry” will have to suffice … for the moment.