“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it?…you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a tellar but for want of an understanding ear.” –Stephen King
Do you have these kinds of secrets? The ones that you stumble upon and wrestle with, the ones that flip and turn in your mind like rocks in a tumbler, until you’ve polished them into a brilliant gem? A gem you quietly hide in the recesses of your heart?
Stephen King’s words took me by surprise the first time I read them. “Yes!” I thought. “He nailed it.” He took a concept I’d tiptoed around, an idea I thought was incredibly complex and articulated it simply: “The most important things are the hardest to say.”
I find that this is true whether I’m really, physically saying a thing—naming a dream, challenging an idea, confronting a friend—or simply trying to convince myself.
Ideas, I think, are the hardest for me. As a concrete thinker, for example, I have no business being intrigued by Vision Boards. Except I am. Are you familiar with this idea? To create a Vision Board, you clip pictures that resonate with you, deeply, and glue them to poster board, butcher paper, or other background. Admitting that I find this fascinating is harder than you might think. And it’s hard for the exact reasons Stephen King expresses.
First: “words diminish them.” So true. When I say Vision Board it feels wishy-washy and dreamer-like. The rest of my brain screams: Make a plan. Write it down. Pros and cons. Cutting out pictures on pasting them on poster board? Is this elementary school?
And that’s just when I say them to myself.
When I say them out loud, or here, to you, they shrink to eleven tiny letters, two words and a space on a page. The words “vision board” represent a concept, an idea; they’re without substance. They’re void of the thought and hope and heart that bring them to life when they reside in my mind. The fear of giving voice to these words, to paraphrase Stephen King, is that you may not understand what I’ve said—or you might look at me in a funny way—or you might completely miss why this idea is feels big and important to me.
One of the most essential components in this process, I think, is the community with which we surround ourselves. When our spouse or friends or, if we’re lucky, both, lend “an understanding ear” it allows us to make our revelations with all their glory and shortcomings, without fear of mockery or judgment. We’re free to unlock our secrets. But equally important is the reverse: that we, ourselves, lend “an understanding ear” to the others in our tribe, acknowledging the value of their most important things, too.
This is the first post of Wise Words, a place we can describe how wisdom from across the ages resounds in our lives. (I’ll post a new quote each Monday; details, here.) I’d love to have you link up below and add your voice. When you do, be sure to link to your Wise Words post, not just to your main page. Also, please link here on your post, so others can find us and join if they’d like. If you don’t get to it on Wednesday, no worries—you can add your link anytime this week. Last, but definitely not least, add to our sense of community by reading the thoughts of at least one of the other writers/bloggers who participates.
PS When I read Caz Makepeace’s recent post on Jeff Goins’ blog, I thought it was right in line with this idea. I highly recommend it for a great read about following dreams and quelling doubts.