I wonder what society would sound like if people had daily limits to their spoken words. A few different things sparked my wondering.
The first spark came a few weeks ago after I posted a Haiku as my wondering. I do not consider myself a poet, nor have I worked in that medium much. However, I enjoyed the process of taking the time and doing the work to fit my reflection into the rigidly structured three-lines of 5-, 7-, and 5-syllables.
Another spark that prompted my wondering came from a friend’s email in which he said that it takes longer for him to compose a meaningful text message of 160 characters than it does for him to write a 350 word message.
A third spark came from a novel I recently read when one of the characters, overwhelmed and fed-up by the silly talk and wasteful words of people, thought, “I wish people would have to pay for words, then maybe this drivel would stop.”
It reminded me a small community in which I lived for a bit. Every other evening or so we would have a communal gathering to talk about what we had learned or any issues that we felt surfacing. At the beginning of each gathering each person received two toothpicks, and each time a person spoke they would have to put their toothpick in the middle of the group. While not ideal, it served to make sure that people only weighed in on topics after considerable thought, and only then if they felt truly moved to comment.
Some Christian communities appreciate silence in different ways. In some worship gatherings, they only have a sermon if someone truly feels inspired to speak. If no one feels that way, then they sit in silence – AND they are okay with it.
I wonder how much better I would listen if I knew that I had word limit each day. I wonder what it would be like to say only those things that really mattered.
What are those things that really matter to you?
I wonder if you have shared these words with people lately –
I love you. I forgive you. I give thanks for your friendship and for your life. I’m sorry, please forgive me. Thank you. Please help me.