2015 Festival of Books

Forrest Aguirre on “Words for a Lifetime”


Forrest AguirreAs a child, I learned the small words first – the ones that were easiest to enunciate and that encompassed my life experience: Mama, Papa, food. As I grew, so did the words and the languages I spoke them in, until I realized that one lifetime is not enough to contain all the beautiful words in the world. Even later, I learned that words were merely representations, that they had no meaning in and of themselves, that speaking them was an elaborate game of hide and seek, with “meaning” flitting in and out of shadow, empty vessels. Then I wrote. And I rediscovered the meaning of words, not a meaning that would necessarily be conveyed to another – I was only lucky if that happened, if our separate experience had somehow traveled along parallel tracks – but their meaning to me, the subtle, yet incredibly powerful nuance conveyed by those most intimate words: father, mother, wife, daughter, son, family, love. Each syllable fills my life with meaning. And the words expand even further to others. They begin friendships, tether relationships, anchor loyalty and sacrifice for others. Yes, words have meaning far beyond the academic, beyond the intellectual over-emphasis of their supposed emptiness. Words are life. Sausurre be damned.

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