I learned English in the United States by listening to people talk to one another, earnestly and empathetically, using their language with surprising efficiency, finding or creating a name for every feeling, situation, or experience. The English language evokes for me freedom and self-expression, and the ability to create a confident understanding that needs little but soundwaves to be shared with those who receive it. I admire its deceptive simplicity and its search for accuracy: my favorite authors from the Lost Generation must have had a blast applying it to create their time-transcending pieces, feeling lucky to have been born into a language that enabled them to express the depths of their absinthe-soaked souls. From then until today, this language flows like a river across all continents, and, carried by it, I found my identity.
And then came French, highly contextualized and in perpetual understatement, pouring like beautiful music, where a syllable or even a single sound can convey a whole opera of meaning. With it, I discovered another genre of language: one that uses silence as much as sound. Analytical and introspective, favouring harmony, French gives its speakers the ability to build meaning on the spot, out of thin air, just by reacting to events, much like in a freestyle improvisation piece in which everybody knows the rules. I have lived in this language for a while now and learned to appreciate its delicate way of seeking an explanation, or at least a reason, for what is not yet understood. It is a language I learned to love as soon as I learned to speak it.
Then I discovered Spanish, with its earthy tones and generous sounds that morph so easily into laughter and intimate conversations. A welcoming, warm language that somehow makes anyone who speaks it feel amazing. It is as though with every word, Mother Nature pours sunshine and good vibes into the hearts of both the speaker and the listener. To me, Spanish communicates a love for life and an acceptance. Its long words and round syllables give those who pronounce them time to cool off from any fiery feelings by the time they finish saying the first word, leaving only appreciation and a sentiment of delight. I can only speak it, never having learned to write it, but somehow, magically, in this language, the words I know are always enough.
Language is energy
I will be forever amazed at how language – words we choose, intonation and pace, the intention that starts the communication – creates our reality. Words we say to people around us, words we hear or read, and finally our own thoughts – mixtures of sound, feelings, and images – build what we call our life experience.
Language creates energy, it conveys energy, and it can also take it away. It recreates us daily, different and the same every day, much like the daylight is same but different each day. A whole life occurs between spoken words, giving us humans power that we are largely unaware of. We would all run screaming if we fully understood the power we have through language.
Language is identity
Like all native languages, Polish - my mother tongue - is beautiful and rich, carved out of miracles, suffering and continuity. There was war and there was peace, and generations and generations wrote their sagas, turning despair and happiness into heartwarming poetry.
But I found my words in other beautiful languages that I learned from scratch, later in my life – which means I will forever bear an accent, like a trophy, that for the initiated translates into: I found my voice.
New languages brought new, refreshing sets of references. Today, I gleefully navigate between them, enjoying the discovery of the vast and complex history and culture that come with language, grateful to my core for the keen awareness that no matter how deeply I feel about something, there always is a different perspective.
Language is creation
I started putting together strings of written words only a few years ago. Indeed, my blog is the first time that writing is not a school or work assignment.
And happy as I am to finish a text, it is a strenuous exercise: nothing flows magically from inspiration. It is a gruelling, difficult process of fitting word to word, molding them into sentences. During it, I often feel like I’m playing a domino game that has way too many rules. Writing is like carving meaning out of clouds of words, when that meaning only becomes clear after it is written. It is like trying to separate three precise droplets of water from a running river – with bare hands.
Language is meditation
The main thing I have learned so far about writing is that, at least in my experience, it is never about producing words. To me, the act of writing materializes through the effort of removing words, stripping the text to its bare minimum, until there is nothing more to remove. This is how I know a text is ready: when no further word can be removed and each one remaining makes up an essential piece of the tower that, if pulled out, would bring the whole thing tumbling down.
Language is karma
Words, whether written or spoken, are alive: once created, they have a life of their own – and come back, either to remind us that life is beautiful or to haunt us. Just when we are confident that we know what we want to say or write, words turn into giggling, mischievous goblins, looking to cause trouble. Therefore, an important aspect of language is the intention that the communication stems from: at the end of the day, that is what will be remembered.
Thank you for your time, dear reader.