Out of town, delayed, exhausted, and weary from what the airlines had foisted upon me in the name of their twisted, loose definition of "customer service," I sought energy in the airport coffee bar, hoping to remain awake long enough to arrive at my destination.
"What would you like?" asked the young woman behind the counter.
"Sugar and cream?"
"No thanks. But where do you keep the Sweet 'n' Low?"
"On the counter behind you. Regular or decaf?"
I wanted to say, "Look at me. Don't I look like someone who desperately needs caffeine?" Instead, I chose politeness, "Regular."
"Small," I answered, maintaining a delicate balance between staying alert long enough to arrive at my destination but not so amped that sleep avoids me.
Pointing to the plastic menu behind and above her, she explained, "We don't have 'smalls;' only medium, large, or extra large." For reference, she directed me to three sample Styrofoam cups emblazoned with felt marker: "M," "L," and "XL".
Understand please, I am a writer and a speaker. Words are my tools; their correct usage is vital. In the same fashion a carpenter handles a saw or an artist strokes with brush, each word has a specific function. Labeling a "small" a "medium" does not make it so anymore than naming a "rabbit" a "chicken" will cause it to lay eggs. Now then, I became launched upon a mission to correct this contrived corruption of communication.
"I'm sorry, I don't mean to be rude," I stated, (which is commonly how people who are about to be rude launch), "but 'medium' cannot be without 'small'. 'Medium,'" I clarified, "by its very nature, implies halfway between extremes. Thusly, 'medium' does not exist without 'small' and 'large.' Does this make sense?"
She stared blankly for a moment; then expelling an exasperated sigh and rolling her eyes, she fired back, "I don't name them, I simply sell them. What size do you want?"
Realizing the wiser path is to retain energy for other battles (such as remaining vertical until arrival at the hotel), I relented and accepted the terms of my surrender. "Fine, medium please."
"Do you mean the 'medium' that we call 'large' or the 'medium' that you call 'small'?"
As I said, words matter.
Beyond conversing with others, thoughts — our communication inside ourselves — are transmitted via words. One reason we possess no recollection of our earliest years is because we were void of the words necessary to catalog the events whirling about us. It is not coincidence that our earliest memories appear at the same period we became comfortable with language.
Words matter, outside and in.
Thoughts repeated without end give birth to beliefs, which direct our lives; everything from how we raise children to our position in relation to Creation. If words are so powerful, it stands to reason that those that we bandy about internally will determine what we can — or cannot — accomplish.
When I say, "I cannot," I most certainly will not. Conversely, when I say, "I can," I will find a way. Your choice; choose thoughtfully.
About the author: Scott "Q" Marcus is a THINspirational speaker and columnist. Since losing 70 pounds over 13 years ago, he conducts speeches, workshops, and presentations throughout the country. His second weight loss book, "MORE Striving for Imprefection: 52 additional columns on weight loss, habit change, and other acts of faith" was just released. Both are available at www.TheEatingCycle.com or by contacting him at email@example.com or 707-422-6243.