Letting Go of the Need to Talk: Dealing with Word Pollution


Words, words, words–I’m so sick of wordschp_magpoetry2
I hear words all day through, first from him now
from you
Is that all you blighters can do?
                                  “Show Me” from My Fair Lady

Emporer Joseph II:  Your work is ingenious. It’s quality work. There are simply too many notes, that’s all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect. 
Mozart:  Which few did you have in mind, Majesty? 
                                   From the movie Amadeus

I haven’t heard of the term word pollution, but I think there’s a language smog in our culture that we seriously have to address.   

Think about it:

  • You wake up in the morning to 24-hour news shows–either Fox, or CNN, or maybe you watch international news such as the BBC.  
  • You pick up your paper at the door and read another 40 pages of words.
  • You go for your morning jog and listen to an audiobook.
  • You get in the car and turn on the radio–and hear news, or banter, or call-ins, or NPR political analysis.
  • At work, you have to keep up in your profession so you spend the first half hour scanning print and on-line trade news.
  • You go to three meetings and talk.  You listen.   You take notes.
  • You go back to your desk and read 20 emails and respond to half of them.  
  • You take 15 phone calls.
  • On the way home you stop at Barnes & Noble for a book to read on the plane for your next business trip and you’re faced with a choice of thousands of titles.
  • You eat dinner watching Bill O’Reilly, or Keith Olberman, or Greta Van Sustern or any other of the hundreds of news commentators, reporters, and pundits.
  • You work on your blog.  You contribute some of the 71,810,645 words WordPress.com is boasting on that day.  
  • You go to bed and pick a novel from your nightstand to wind down.
  • And then you can’t get to sleep because of the words swimming in your head.

When–WHEN–do we have time to actually do anything?

Or more importantly, when do we make time to just be?

I have reached my saturation point with words.  I feel like the fountain I have in my office, overflowing with the sound of words, the look of words on the page, the words turning around in my mind, the choices of which words to read and which to ignore and which to recycle and which to file and which to delete and which to respond to and which will make me a better person and which will make me smarter and which will make me mad.

I have been trying to think about how to address word pollution in my life, and how to pull myself off, like a suction cup, from the reliance on the constant presence of words.    I think I’ve hit bottom.  

So here’s the first step:  We admitted that we were powerless to live our lives wordlessly.  

The test:  Give up words for just one hour.  Give up thinking in words, reading words, listening to words, writing words.  Just try it.  I did.  It’s not easy.  It leaves a void.

So, in that void, be still.


Breathe again.  Deeply.

Meditate.  Wordlessly.