Words fail me, and I fail them.
Despite my love for the English language, I find my own ability to use it to convey complex, often nebulous concepts is far from adequate. I cast around for metaphors, for analogies and parables to express what I feel deep within. Sometimes it’s beyond my capacity to hit the mark, sometimes I fail the words and the concepts. I get upset by the feeling that while the shades of meaning and the subtleties almost convey what I want to say, in the end I fail to transmit the core of what I want to say. Rather than resort to aphorisms or platitudes, reusing the worn-out and often inadequate but comfortingly familiar phrases and sound-bites that have proliferated in recent years, I’d rather fall back on poetry. This snippet expresses well the feeling of a failing command of words when under great pressure to express what maybe is only something that can be directly experienced:
“And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now. Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Will not stay still.” T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton
So why do I write when the words fail me and I fail them? Perhaps this is why:
“You say I am repeating Something I have said before. I shall say it again. Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there, To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not, You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy. In order to arrive at what you do not know You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance. In order to possess what you do not possess You must go by the way of dispossession. In order to arrive at what you are not You must go through the way in which you are not. And what you do not know is the only thing you know And what you own is what you do not own And where you are is where you are not.” T.S. Eliot, East Coker