"Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart." ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
Ironically, it is only words that can communicate their own inadequacy. Words, symbols and language are wonderful tools to communicate ideas but they also fail and mislead.
A few days ago, I started looking at quotes to share with my parents on their 50th wedding anniversary. It was an amazing coincidence that I randomly chose a file on my computer with dozens of quotes from various authors. My eyes went directly to today's featured Martin Luther King, Jr. quote. The coincidence is that MLK day is only a few days away and this particular quote summed up my own thoughts perfectly: What do you say to someone on such an amazing occasion? How does one sum up 18,250 days of dedication, trials, tribulations and joys? There are no words that are adequate; therefore we use words to express the failings of words.
In that spirit, here are few more of my favorite quotes on words, language and meaning:
"Words, he decided, were inadequate at best, impossible at worst. They meant too many things. Or they meant nothing at all." ~ Patricia A. McKillip
"Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man." ~ Martin Heidegger
"Words, no matter whether they are vocalized and made into sounds or remain unspoken as thoughts, can cast an almost hypnotic spell upon you. You easily lose yourself in them, become hypnotized into implicitly believing that when you have attached a word to something, you know what it is." ~ Eckhart Tolle
"To the extent that language forces experiences into categories it is a screen between reality and the human being. In a word, we pay for its benefits… Therefore, while using language, as we must of necessity, we should be aware of its shortcomings." ~ Abraham Maslow
"The word is not the thing. I may describe a mountain most beautifully, paint it, make a poem, but the word, the description, the poem, is not the actual. We are generally carried away emotionally, irrationally by the description, by the word." ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
"If I can assign names as well as pictures to objects, the right assignment of them we may call truth, and the wrong assignment of them falsehood." ~ Socrates
"The supreme paradox of all thought is the attempt to discover something that thought cannot think." ~ Soren Kierkegaard
Happy 50th Anniversary, Mom & Dad. Thanks to Martin Luther King, Jr for all that you've done for humanity. The greatness of the anniversary and of MLK are beyond words...