Words That Meant Too Much

It looked like an old piece of paper, stuck to the bottom of the cardboard box in the attic. The kind of trash that most people wouldn’t even give a second look to. At the end of the cleaning day. When there was such an abundance of meaningless old papers that would have to journey to the dumpster. And she almost passed right over it, scraping the dusty relics of years gone past into their eternal resting receptacle.

But an ancient ink stain bled through one corner. The yellowed edges of a once pretty parchment were carefully lined up to make a fold. There was an ageless grace, upon closer observation, that made her momentarily curious. Drawing the brittle letter from the bottom of the storage tomb, she discovered a beautiful thing.

To my dearest…

The words. On that page. But as soon as she read them, breath and life wafted from the paper. A far away story blossomed. The words. Written carefully, but not flawlessly. Uneven letters, a too quick word here and there, misspelled only once or twice. She could feel the pauses in the sentence as he searched for the true thing to say. The letter of old pieced together a moment of history. Of waiting. Of time. Of memory. Of desire. Of struggle. Of responsibility. Of longing. Of faithfulness. Of trust. Of hope.

The words. They once again burned with meaning. They created something in the attic that afternoon. But not only a story of a once-upon-a-time. The words. They spoke deeply to her own longing, her desire, her search for truth. Even though that particular letter was not written to her.  She felt this struggle. She recognized this pain. She fell into his story, most certainly by accident.

The words. The came alive, and suddenly her everyday story was threatened. Spoken thoughtfully, but not flawlessly. Incomplete understandings, a too quick word here and there, confusing her reason and emotion more than once. Her own words became uneasy and uncomfortable, now searching for that true thing to say. The letter had whispered a moment of a new reality. Of desire. Of longing. Of trust. Of hope.

Even so, life just continued. Small talk with the same familiar people. Business emails decorated with cordial conversation. Quick texts and amusing posts. The words she had learned to count on now appeared flat and insincere. Because that letter had inspired a need for something more. That letter left her looking for that world he had described. That letter, those words, had recalibrated her days, her struggle, her pain, her story. And it didn’t all make sense. The life she lived didn’t reflect the unseen possibilities of such a universe. 

Once a word is given life, it will have consequences. You can’t speak its existence, and go on pretending it isn’t there. 

So, some days she desperately tried to forget the words she discovered. Because of the great and terrible things they revealed. And other days, she couldn’t help but cherish the words that breathed this new and unpredictable life into her. But she wondered. Too often. Why did she ever have to find those words that meant too much.