Some things demand perfection
Stephen King wrote in On Writing that writing is, “Telepathy, of course.” That’s the power of words, of language. It passes time and space. Mr. King made me think of a bird, just as I did to you right now.
You just turned four recently but you could be 14, 44, or 94 when you read this. I may not be here when you read this but long after I’m gone, these words – my words – will be here and, suddenly, I’m with you again.
That’s why I keep everything I find that has your momma’s words on them. Even all her labels. It’s how I can hear her even now.
Words live on long after we’re gone so words matter.
Recently, I worked with your Uncle Chad on something called a Schultz Choke. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever learned but it has to be almost perfect to work. So I practice it.
I’ll teach it to you one day.
I suppose that you’re tired of my teaching you things. Maybe you even hate me at times. Because I demanded perfection in certain things that you think aren’t a big deal.
I understand. I sometimes hated my dad because he was always teaching me things, things that I didn’t think were a big deal. Now I get it.
I wish he were here to teach me one more thing.
But I digress. Yes, not everything demands perfection – often, good enough is good enough. But some things do. The Schultz Choke demands perfection, for example.
Language demands perfection as well. Because it has to be almost perfect to work the way you want it to.
In speaking, the right cadence, the right volume, the right words, the right body position – all these things affect how the listeners hears what your soul wants to say.
In writing, all the more so. Because – since you’re not in front of them – you don’t have things like cadence, volume, or body position to help you communicate. You only have the naked words themselves and grammar to organize these words.
And that’s why things like vocabulary and grammar matter so much to me and why I’ve made such a big deal about it all these years. Because the loneliest people I know are people that don’t understand that if you cannot make yourself understood, you’re speaking Martian while everyone else is speaking English.
Just a few weeks ago, Aunt Roz came by to tighten up an important speech. Because I spent years writing and editing to understand how to string words together to give my thoughts life and she wanted my help in being understood.
Her: Speech was a hit! The jokes that got the loudest laughs were definitely yours.
Ending up with your mother was just a thought in my head but it was words that made it happen.
As I just said: You don’t have a soul. You are a soul, you have a body.
Your soul is what writes and speaks. I hope it does so as perfectly as possible so that it can be heard the way you want to be heard.
Because, my hope is that you’re a soul that has something valuable and good to tell the world.
It’s all your mama and I ever wanted for you.
Him: When is mommy coming back?
Me: She’s not. She can’t.
Him: Because she got sick. (nods) I miss her.
Me: I miss her every day. Every day. But she gave me you and that makes it all a little better.
Him: I love mommy. To the moon and back.
Me: Me too. (sighing) Me too.