A few weeks ago I saw a story on the national news about a young man who was battling brain cancer. I think he was probably 12 or 13 at most. A brave kid, no doubt.
He was going through the treatment process and it was still touch and go. Then, one day, he decided to do the most unusual thing. He decided to call his tumor something, to name it. He is a BIG Ohio State fan, and his tumor was his enemy, and so to no one's surprise, he named his tumor 'Michigan.'
He focused for the next few months on stomping 'Michigan' into oblivion and, one day, he did just that. They showed an x-ray of the place where the tumor used to be, and sure enough "Michigan' was nowhere to be found. The more he talked about 'Michigan' and the more he focused on it, the better he got. He's in remission, now, thank God.
I loved that story, and I'm not surprised. I've always believed that words have that kind of awesome power. They can heal or they can harm; they can bring peace or make war. We choose.
In fact, words are so loaded with potential, that even when we talk to ourselves, there is amazing power. We believe what we say. Have you ever talked yourself out of something? Or, have you ever had to talk yourself INTO something? I've heard that bravery is not the absence of fear, it's just the ability to go on in spite of it. Doing so almost requires that we have a chat with ourselves (maybe several) and tell ourselves that it's all going to be OK.
And, then we wade into the thing we feared most, and we push 'Michigan' back a few yards or vanquish it altogether.
Words are like that. I've always believed it. I've seen mountains move when I chose the right ones. The cynical might say that it's a corny and passé idea, the notion that what we say to others can be so important, especially in a day and age when words come so easily.
But the truth is, we all wield a sword for good or evil. We build up or we tear down. We live in a world where we can do either of those things with a simple tap on the SEND button.
We should choose wisely. Our missives are sure to land somewhere, and they WILL have significant impact, and sometimes unintended consequences.
But, the story of "Michigan' is a poignant reminder of an indisputable truth: Take the time to choose just the right word, and literally anything is possible.