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52 things I know about words (and you should too): #3 Words Linger

Words linger.

I suppose I might have long known this, but I had never thought about it much until I got this message on Twitter:

@itsleisa Words have the power to give encouragement long after the writer has forgotten them and I thank you for that. ~ @Ultralucky

Unknown

Wow. Wow because I don’t know @Ultralucky, and until I got the message, hadn’t been following him on Twitter. Still, somehow he’d been moved to send me that message. I blog about the power of words to shape our lives. I can only guess it was something I’d said on my blog, in a tweet or something.

In any event, it got me thinking of recent words that have lingered for me. Other messages of appreciation and gratitude that I’ve randomly received, from friends, and few folks I didn’t even really know.

Forgotten

Like this Facebook message a few weeks back from a woman who had participated in a workshop that I helped facilitate:

I have a memory of you….
I’m not sure if you remember me, but I wanted to share this with you.

So, I’m in the workshop, and you are coaching people that are having a hard time creating a declaration for thier future.

I am “done” with mine and you invite me to help coach a classmate. He’s crying about the past and unwilling to declare himself–and I want to hug him and tell him it’s okay, poor baby, etc… He explains where the pain is coming from all while crying–

And you say to him–“I got all that, but what’s the drama about?”
I was shocked at your “coldness” and your ability to be so direct. My eyes were wide and I just stared at you for what felt like way too long.

I watched the guy (I don’t remember his name) stop crying, get over it, walk on stage, declare his future, and move on.

By the end of Sunday night of the workshop, I “got it” for myself. I remembered what life was like before I started feeling sorry for myself. And then began living that again.

I’ve always given the course leader the credit for me moving to a new level in my life–but when I saw your face on here today–I remembered what happened.

I moved myself–by watching you stand for someone.
You make me proud to be a woman!

Yep, that one made me cry. Having facilitated a myriad of workshops, I have no memory of that interaction. But but there it was – my words had lingered in a big way.

Old friend

Then, a while back man I haven’t seen in years, but am connected with on Facebook said how much he enjoyed my Facebook posts and called me an “accessible goddess” – I’ve never dared think of myself as goddess-like, but if I am for him – I’ll accept the mantle with pleasure.

Renewed friend

And I learned I was quotable in a conversation with a sweet friend who had just moved back into town. We were sharing and chatting like crazy to catch up on the last two years, I started talking about the things I am passionate about, and what is lighting me up these days, when she said

“Stop. Wait. Get me a pen and some paper, I want to take notes.”

Yes, I hesitated a bit in sharing these anecdotes. I’m desperately afraid of sounding pompous, when in fact I am deeply humbled and honored by these acknowledgments.

You are lingering

I share because I know you have your own version of these moments. And I share mine to make the point – words linger. And you don’t know who’s listening. And you don’t know what will linger, or with whom, nor for how long.

This has always been true, but in our digital age, even more so. Now, rather than our words lingering in our family or immediate community, they linger globally. Immediately accessible, searchable, save-able and shareable, by millions, if not billions of people.

Where once I might have been blissfully unconscious of the reach and impact of my words, this realization has gotten me very interested in paying close attention to both who I am talking to, and what I am saying.

I now speak with an awakened curiosity of how, where and with whom my words might linger. Do you?

What about you?

What words have lingered with you?
What words do you want to leave lingering?

photo credit: Gregory Bastien

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