Friday, May 29, 2015

Langage Plain Enough to Comprehend

Over the years I have encountered the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln in histories and various collections of his wit and wisdom.  I knew already I had a collection of quotes of his on my bookshelf, but I still chose to buy this slim volume at a neighbor's garage sale.

Edited by Carol Kelly-Gangi 2007 Fall River Press

Here is a quote from page three that my desire to communicate well can take to heart:

I can say this, that among my earliest recollections I remember how, when a mere child, I used to get irritated when anybody talked to me in a way I could not understand...I can remember going to my little bedroom, after hearing the neighbors talk of an evening with my father, and spending no small part of the night walking up and down, and trying to make out what was the exact meaning of some of their, to me, dark sayings.  I could not sleep, though I often tried to, when I got on such a hunt after an idea, until I had caught it; and when I thought I had got it, I was not satisfied until I had repeated it over and over, until I had put it in language plain enough, as I thought, for any boy I knew to comprehend.
 A remark by  President Abraham Lincoln made to Reverend J.P. Gulliver, from Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln by F.B. Carpenter

Another way this childhood remembrance of Lincoln's desire to understand adult communication encouraged me is that it validated the theme and intent of a short story I wrote a few years back and which I had recently pulled from the drawer to refine up a bit.

I need to clean out those heavy file folders in my drawers and  I hope to do it without being too rough on some of those early manuscripts.  A little validation and encouragement might give me just the right touch.  I miss having a fireplace though...somehow burning old journals and rough drafts feels different than shredding them.  Perhaps it is just that crackle and warmth of the fire versus the mechanical sound of the sheering teeth of the shredder slicing the words into confetti that still needs to be recycled. Ah, but there is is something to the instant finality of flame licking through those pages one wrote and saved and then released as somehow no longer needed...especially those not written in language plain enough to be truly comprehended.