I remember the beginning of my life long love affair with words. I must have been 8. Second grade. My (tiny) family (just me, mom & dad) had just moved from Eugene, Oregon to the shores of Puget Sound in the rural outskirts of Olympia, Washington. My father had accepted a job with Simpson Timber Company in nearby Shelton.
I was in my new room, in our new home. Laying in bed, the unfamiliar sounds of the tide lapping the shore outside my window. Wide awake. Too excited and unsettled to sleep. A new home, new town, tomorrow a new school and making new friends, my dad’s new job at Simpson Timber Company. I was busy trying to make sense of it all.
My mind was racing. Searching. Trying to find connections between what I had known, and what was to come. Simpson Timber Company. What was that? What is a timber company, any way? There had been some explanation about the forest and trees and how lumberjacks cut trees for the wood that made houses. And that timber companies were somehow part of that whole process.
But really, Simpson Timber Company? What did it mean? What would it mean for me? The questions just kept swirling around in my head and did not, would not stop. So I started to say the words over and over – Simpson Timber Company – and wondered. Believing perhaps that repeating the words would yield some insight into the mystery of my new life.
Simpson Timber Company. Simpson Timber Company. I said it fast. simpsontimbercompany I said it really slow. S i m p s o n T i m b e r C o m p a n y. Tim ber Com pan y. Tim ber.
I said it with feeling, like they do in the woods. Tiiiiiiiiiiiim Berrrrrrrr! I kept saying it. I let the vibration of the sounds roll around in my body. I savored the feel and the texture of the words in my mouth.
I said it in little mousey, squeeky voices ‘timber, timber’. I said it in big, booming, commanding man voices TI M BER! TI M BER! TI M BER!
Eventually, the silly sounds of the words deconstructed just started me giggling. What an absurd and funny-sounding word. Timber. Say it ten times in ten different ways, and you will see what I mean. Try it. I dare you. I’ll wait. Tiiiiiimmmmmmberrrrrrr!
I kept saying and giggling. Giggling and wondering. How could such a funny-sounding little word just have changed everything I had known in my whole (short) life? Everything had changed, and for such a funny-sounding word.
Turns out, whatever it means, it’s a very entertaining word, so I continued. Again,Tiiiiiimmmmmmberrrrrrr! Giggles ultimately gave way to laughter, which progressed to near hysterics (alone in my room, remember). Mom was finally prompted to come to my door with the inevitable question “What are you doing in there?”
“Oh, nothing.” Nothing. Just discovering the innate absurdity and mighty power of words – a discovery that has continued to delight me, and shape and fuel the course of my life.
This blog is about that discovery. It’s about words, the power of words, the beauty of words, the absurdity of words. It’s about the world of possibilities, invention and experience that words create. Essentially, I will be sharing with you, and inviting you to join along in my life-long romance with words – including all the ups downs, twists and turns that a romance implies. Along the way, I hope that something I say may help you discover or reawaken your own delight in the world of words.
If you want to explore more, check out these two masters of playing with the absurdity of words
And, I’d love to hear your back-talk
- When have you found a word absurd?
- If you were just playing with words, what would you say?