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The Power of Words

January 8, 2010

12th Dec 2008

When I was a lad at primary school, I had a penpal.

It would be more honest perhaps to say that I exchanged 2 letters with a Norwegian schoolkid around the same age as myself.

It was part of a project between his school and mine to enable us to learn something of each other’s cultures and lifestyles.

It didn’t work. I didn’t learn anything I didn’t know already – which was that I would rather be out playing than write a letter to someone I didn’t know and wasn’t interested in. I suspect he felt the same about me. After exchanging a couple of letters, weeks apart, by unspoken agreement we both stopped writing – much to the other’s relief.

In retrospect, part of the problem I think was the medium we were using. It is difficult to develop a conversational style of communication when several weeks separate the sending of one letter and the receipt of a reply.

Modern technology has completely turned this around – IM, email, blogs, make communication almost instantaneous. It is possible now to have a conversation with someone online – to ask a question and receive an answer in minutes rather than weeks or months. As such, I now find myself after a gap of 50 years with a new ‘penpal’.

‘I wish there was more I could do’

How often do we hear those words? The person saying those words is usually trying to convey regret that there is nothing other than words they can offer by way of help in the situation you find yourself in.

There is a ‘power’ in words, however, that is often underestimated. Words can be cruel or hurtful and cause great pain. But they can also be a power for good. They can be inspirational, uplifting, comforting, a source of strength to the recipient.

I can testify to the power of words to ‘heal’. My new ‘penpal’ – a cheeky wee besom, who I’ve come to think of as almost a virtual ‘wee sister’ – often makes me laugh with her comments. Times when things are a bit tough and/or I’m feeling a bit down she’ll pop up with some smart-ass remark that makes me laugh and lifts my spirit. It’s a comfort too to know I have such a good friend who I can speak to honestly about how I’m feeling with regard to Mrs D’s health instead of putting on a brave face for ‘real life’ family and friends.

So while words may seem a poor offer when someone is troubled or in pain, to the recipient they are a precious gift – a ‘treasure’

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 8, 2010 2:53 pm

    I had a penpal from Inverness when I was 13 years old. We exchanged quite a few letters until one day he appeared at our front door in Windsor, a good few hundred miles south.

    He had run away from home, but didn’t know (I forgot to say) that my father was a policeman who arranged for him to go back home, PDQ!

  2. March 10, 2017 1:43 pm

    Reblogged this on Site Title.

  3. March 10, 2017 1:45 pm

    Mr. Duncan, following your blog. It is a great experience. Thanks for the share.

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