Sometimes I feel like a fraud because while I rarely call myself a writer these days, it's still attached to me in many ways. Once on a job interview I got asked one of those horrid questions that you really only get during job interviews - what makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning? My answer was words. Was it a great answer? Probably not the best for a job that didn't have a whole lot to do with words but it's quite possibly the most truthful thing I've ever said in a job interview.
I've had a difficult year with words. I've... lost something. Last year I read close to 200 books. This year I'm not even going to hit 50. Words on a page aren't holding me. Nonfiction holds a better chance than fiction but it still feels like a momentous occasion when I actually finish a book.
I'm not writing either. There are various legit reasons for that but for a long, long time I used the excuse that I was writing somewhere else to not write here. It makes sense for me not to be writing about things I've read when I haven't read all that much. I acknowledge that for many people anything close to 50 book in a year is a lot but for me it's the least I've read since I started this whole blogging thing. But there are other plenty of other things I could be writing about. I have a life. But I just keep putting up my weekly meal plans because it's safe and easy and my week would be way more complicated if I didn't meal plan at this point. If I need to write it up for myself I might as well stick in online and make this blog appear to have a life.
The thing is... when you don't use your words, a time will come when you need them and they abandon you. A friend will tell you that they are struggling and you will say, "I'm sorry." Another friends won't want to tell you they are struggling so you call and because you don't have the words you just babble a whole lot and you get the point across, which is "I'm sorry and I care." A friend will call and tell you some medical news and you say, "I'm sorry." Another friend will tell you something heart-shattering and you aren't there to cry with them and there's not a damned thing you can do about it but cry at your keyboard and listen and say, "I'm sorry."
I'm sick of I'm sorry. It's a cliche of my Canadianness but I say it a lot. I say it when I bump into someone at the grocery store. Yes, I say it when someone else steps on my toes. I say it when I speak at the same time as someone else. I say it all the time for small, insignificant reasons. It's common. It's so common it feels it has no place in these larger, serious conversations.
Shouldn't someone who spends their day with words be able to say something more than "I'm sorry"? Shouldn't I know something better, something less cliched? Something more meaningful? You rail against your lack of mastery of language because there's got to be something better to say.
And then you take a deep breath, you step back, and you acknowledge that there are no words in the English language that would make any of this any better. You remember that simple words are often the most meaningful. And that people don't need you to have great words. They just you need to acknowledge what's happening and most of all to listen. You don't need speak. You need to let people be heard.
And when they are done, you will say I'm sorry because it's the only thing to say when words aren't enough.