This opinion piece in The New York Times by N. Scott Momaday, Pulitzer Prize winning author of the novel House Made of Dawn, is worthy of a read.
It reminded my about why I do the work I do with words and why I love words so deeply. And of the words that have empowered me and those that keep me stuck.
The term “power” is everywhere in our world. Thinking of it, the phrase “word inflation” comes to mind. Much of what we encounter in print, on television and in advertising centers on the concept of power.
But what is that concept? What is power? The truth is that the word bears an impossible burden of interpretation. Definitions are myriad; the dictionary lists an unusual number of meanings. Surely power is what it is — that which enables us to influence, if not indeed determine, the course of our lives.
Momaday continues, with consideration of the role of words in the lives of children. This part resonated deeply. What stories thrilled you most?
Words are sacred. I believe they are more sacred to children than they are to most of us. When I was first able to make my way in language, my Native American father, a member of the Kiowa tribe, told me stories from the Kiowa oral tradition. They transported me. They fascinated and thrilled me. They nourished my imagination. They nourished my soul. Indeed, nothing has meant more to me in fashioning my view of the world. I came to understand that story is the engine of language, and that words are the marrow of language.
He concludes with this:
There is a Navajo formula to make an enemy peaceful. It goes:
Put your feet down with pollen.
Put your hands down with pollen.
Put your head down with pollen.
Then your feet are pollen;
Your hands are pollen;
Your body is pollen;
Your mind is pollen;
Your voice is pollen.
The trail is beautiful.
Now that is power.
Read more here.