I usually go on and on about emotional stuff I’m going through, but I thought I’d talk about something different today. It’s my philosophy, if you will, on the power of words. Mostly, it’s about the power of connecting with others. Now, I’m not really a new-agey sort of person, or all that philosophical really, but this is something I think about a lot and I wanted to share it.
Here’s where I vaguely quote studies and have no idea where they come from. I can tell you that on NPR this morning there was another story that talked about how touch affects the body. I’ve had this conversation with my aunt, a psychiatrist who has studied the effect of touch on the brain’s functions. So. Our skin is the largest organ and just under the surface is this massive network of wonderful (or horrible) receptors. It’s why when we’re touched, we FEEL it. Touching someone connects you. It can lower cortisol (a stress hormone) and provide comfort. It can transmit pain. But let’s focus on the good stuff. When we touch or are touched, a peculiar magic happens. And it goes beyond feeling good. Sure, a massage feels good especially if it comes from someone named Sven who’s bulging muscles glisten. But the everyday touch is pretty miraculous too. Bodies connect. Babies need touch to develop their brains successfully. Partners need touch to feel connected. We all need touch because it soothes us and makes us feel alive.
Here’s where I start to get metaphysical. Through touch, bodies connect because our atoms collide. Is this scientific? Not at all. It’s high school science mixed in with poetic interpretation. But I believe when we touch someone (or are touched) we connect on a spiritual level because for a brief moment we occupy the same space. Literally. We share the same space. It’s why when you’re intimate with someone your relationship takes on such a different meaning. You’ve shared a part of yourself. Literally.
Stay with me here.
So if it’s proven that touch can calm and connect and at times heal….isn’t it possible that words can do the same thing?
When we talk to each other, think of words as floating through the expanse of space between you and gliding over your body. It’s why tone is so important. When someone uses harsh words and anger, it’s why those words FEEL cutting. I believe, on some level, they do physically cut you. Maybe we don’t see it, but if words take the form of sound, and sound travels in waves…isn’t it possible that our bodies feel it? Isn’t it possible?
Now, when someone speaks lovingly to you, imagine words warming you, holding you gently. It’s why therapy works. You let go of anxiety and are comforted by the words’ release. It’s why girlfriends talk and why we connect with each other. It’s why when you’re dating, you have these awkward conversations. You’re checking each other out with your words, gently at first, then with more confidence. It’s why when you fall in love with someone, just the sound of their voice comforts you. Words are probing, people. They probe. And they become intimate.
Hmmm. I swear to god I’m not smoking anything.
So…if physical touch connects us, if language connects us, is it possible that we can connect through words alone?
I think so. I think it’s the curious magic of art and music and beauty. We are physically touched by these things, sending off all those receptors in our bodies, building pathways in the brain. You can tell I have no medical basis for any of this. It’s just a belief. What I’m saying is stories are important. Sharing stories is important. But to get the full healing effects of words, to truly connect with someone, you have to allow your body to feel.
Being vulnerable is important even when we are very scared because it allows our bodies to be open and accepting of magic. That’s where love happens. For our friends, for our families, for someone else.
Bah. I’m close to figuring out something here, I’m sure of it. If I were smoking something, I’d have figured out this potential epiphany AND solved the global economic crisis. Alas. I’m too neurotic for drugs.
What was I saying? Oh yes. Touching. Healing. The power of words. Atoms colliding. Magic. Love.
Wow. Maybe I should open a church.
Tinfoil hats may be required.