Whether we realize it or not, words mean something, they have power. I had a dream last night about a young man, probably 20's, I didn't recognize him. It was like watching a video screen with him placed in many scenarios of water torture. Truly it was a hard thing to watch as he was dunked under water or forced to drink water relentlessly by a force stronger than he. The torturer could not be seen. He was being bullied. Then, as film does, it suddenly flashed to his reality. He was in an Olympic size pool on a cartoon like shape shark raft, a friendly dolphin with painted on teeth. He says, "I can't describe love that way. I can't do that to my girlfriend."
I woke then leaving the cropped light brown hair guy with round glasses wearing a gray T-shirt in the pool figuring out how to describe love. I was confused at first. I pondered what does this mean.
I had been explaining imagery to the young writer. I thought yesterday how doing that has to make sense. Whether you're a Rush Limbaugh fan or not, most are not, that is one thing he says that sticks with me. Words mean something. We have to protect our language.
I realized after I thought awhile that the young man was thinking of ways we describe love. And if you think of the literal meaning, it is not pretty. Do you really want the subject of your affection to be drowning? have unquenchable thirst? immersed? The images of those words show a helpless state. The unseen force- is it our desires? Our use of analogy must be clear. I love the song, A Whiter Shade of Pale, but as I listened to it the other day, I thought, "Really, what does that mean?" And I remembered so many other sayings that in a way just sound good, but don't communicate a true meaning. OK in this song, I have seen people grow paler and it works, but at first I had to think about it.
I know that was a mistake I made often when I was younger. I just liked the way the words sounded together. As I work on writing as a craft, I must guard against employing words that don't mean what I'm saying.
Thank you, young man on a "sharkie" raft floating in the pool of imagination for pointing this out, so I can share it.
Or maybe I need to get away and swim.