I have a nephew named William. He’ll be two years old in July. Because he was just so tiny when he was born, we call him Tiners. Or Tiny Man. Or just Will. He teaches me things all the time. Things like how to look cool when eating macaroni: eat it with your right hand, holding the fork in your left but never actually using the fork. That’s how you eat macaroni.
When I look at my nieces and nephews, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for them. By the end of this year there will be 18 grandchildren in my family, and each day I can’t help but be in awe by what a blessing it is to be an aunt. I learn so much every day from these wonderful little people, I get to help raise them. I love them fiercely.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about words. As a writer, it’s not necessarily a new thing for me. But I’ve been thinking about them in specific ways. I’ve always been fascinated with words because of what we can create with them, what they mean. How powerful they can be.
But I’ve come to realize recently that words really don’t mean a thing.
What we do is what is important.
William teaches me that. Because he doesn’t know very many words yet, all he can do is act. And yet he knows how to show sadness or anger or hunger or ambition or the deepest, most pure love in the world. And he doesn’t have to say a word to show me all of these things. Will doesn’t have to lie, say mean things, or go off on a strange hipster phase because, without saying one word, he knows what is important.
I wonder why it is that we lose that as we get older. Why is it that we have to relearn how to be wise? Because trust me, I also have a nephew that is 5 months old, and looking into his eyes I am absolutely positive that he knows infinitely more than I do.
William teaches me about confidence. He knows who he is and what he wants. Like I said, he knows what is important. He looks at his mother and father, the rest of us as his extended family, his dog, or his stuffed moose, and he knows that that is really all that matters. That is really all he needs. He doesn’t have to be self-conscious or sad because he knows that he is loved. He has no reason the believe otherwise.
Why aren’t we this way? How is it that in the process of learning to talk and read and write and walk and run and in going to school and growing older, we unlearn wisdom?
It is almost as if in gaining words we think we know something that we didn’t know before. But is that really true?
I suppose I never realized that in this life long quest to express the expressible, I was searching for nothing. And believe it or not, I’m not writing any of this in a negative or pessimistic way. I’m merely trying to state that perhaps that really isn’t the point.
What really matter is what is in our heart, our soul. And what we do with whatever that is.