Language Frustrates Me

For #ThrowbackThursday, I am posting something I wrote about thirty years ago when I was as an undergraduate. I would submit it as a writing sample when I applied for jobs.

Language frustrates me. Because of it, I think in distinctions; I draw lines where they do not in fact exist; I categorize and differentiate. All this I do to simplify, to impose order. All this so that I need not think or feel or know too much. All this so that I may function in a complex world. Otherwise, I would be overwhelmed. Or so I believe. But, in actuality, my attempts to simplify, to order the world around me, make my world more complex. More complex because I distort. More complex, for language is inherently imprecise. And, I get caught in my errors, in my ignorance, and in my arrogance. I err when I oversimplify. I close my eyes to what is really going on when I ignore subtleties that elude definition. And, I arrogantly play God when I try to control my environment, imposing on it an order that is not necessarily there. Still, I convince myself that making these distinctions somehow empowers me. But the definitions, the distinctions, the categorizations I make become cages, and I find myself, not the objects I define, behind the bars. For in limiting what is limitless, in trying to contain what will not fit into any box or cage, I limit and imprison myself.

This piece of prose poetry means a great deal to me. It still resonates. Retyping it now makes me question why I would submit it as a writing sample for legal assistant, counseling, and business positions. The piece is perhaps a bit too telling. Guess I’ve always been I. My questioning and open nature, my love for ideas, my ambivalence for language, my theological bent, are part and parcel of who I am. Have been and still are.

Too bad I didn’t save more of my writing, that I pitched it all in an attempt to clean house. This piece, though, I kept in my résumé file.