I’m not good at expressing myself using the English language – at feeling something, and then trying to put that feeling into words.
That might be a facetious thing for somebody who claims to be a writer to blurt out – after all, isn’t my job to express myself using words?! And yet it’s the honest truth. Sure, I’ll own up to being adept at choosing words and ordering sentences in a pleasing way, but that is not the same thing. I’m hopeless at adequately summing up what it is I feel.
“What are you trying to do?”
For instance, I couldn’t possibly tell you in mere words what I’m trying to do with my life. I could tell you that I’m trying to write stories, or write songs, or teach people. All these things would be technically true, and yet I’d feel like no combination of them – no matter how long I deliberated over my choice of words – would adequately sum up what I’m trying to do.
And yet… I know perfectly well what I’m trying to do with my life. I know when I’m getting it right. I know when I’m getting it wrong. I just can’t express it using language. Oh well.
Things are bigger than words
The problem is not that I’m bad at expressing myself – though I believe I am. The real problem is that words are a tool with severely limited applications. Hard as it is to believe, in a culture that places so much importance on words, there are many things in life that – even in the most skilled poet’s hands – words cannot begin to express.
In their defence, words are incredible. Speech – and then writing – allowed us to progress as a civilisation, to communicate with each other in ways utterly impossible otherwise. They make our lives easier and more efficient.
But in the same way that you wouldn’t use a machete to trim your mustache, or mustache scissors to chop down branches in the jungle, words have their time and their place.
If your friend wanted to know how to boil an egg, or get to your house, or what the weather was like, for example, then words would suffice.
But if your friend wanted to know what Beethoven’s 5th sounded like, or a sunset looked like, or what being in love felt like… words would be woefully inadequate.
Words are a just fascimile – they are a reproduction of the original source. In the domain in which they work, they work better than anything else. They just don’t work outside of that domain.