Words vs. Pictures

I Love To Read

2014-08-25 19.46.27Always have. The older I get, the more I savor the words. Where once I read for speed, I now peruse a few pages and think about what I have read.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love to look at things and there are many places in life I want to go see, but there is something special about the craft of taking words from a dictionary, matching them with a mental picture, and placing them into print for others to enjoy. Everywhere I go I enjoy taking pictures, yet I have found that these snapshots are not as graphic as what I have stored in my mind of the same place.

There is almost something magical about taking these images and parsing the pixels into words.

I have never found a video to be more graphically accurate than the words on paper. Nor have I ever enjoyed the video more than the book. For the most part, my mind is extremely unique to paint the results of words read into something more personal. Other than experiencing a place in person, taking words from a page and painting my own experience is more real than someone else’s picture of the same place.

I have found some “Planet Photographers” on Instagram and I enjoy looking at the unique perspective of this world through the eyes of their lenses. Yet, one of them noted that they always spend time “editing” the picture before showing it off. That’s right… They edit it. In other words, what they show is not a true representation – they sharpen the colors, remove unnecessary distractions, and finalize a product they are proud of…

Now, for that friend of mine who is color blind? Those sharpened colors do no justice to the final product for him!

There are some books that cannot be converted into a picture format. During school I have found more distractions with “video” presentations of a subject – the distractions of the background, facial features, or background designs are huge. One video was in a church setting and I was constantly watching others on the screen to see how they were reacting. Of course, as luck would have it, I found many that were not as “in to” the subject as the speaker!

So… In this situation, simply give me the audio.

I mentioned a book the other day, “A River Runs Through It” as probably one of the prettiest painted word stories I have read in a long time. It is based on the author’s life and is a collection of writings primarily intended for his children. The author has passed on, but did not begin writing until he was in his late 60’s, long after a career of teaching and living. As I read through the pages (digitally, of course) I am struck by well crafted sentences that will divert my attention from the book and down a rabbit trail of thought. I can spend some quality minutes thinking about what I have read. This has become my “fun” time. A book like this one will take me weeks to get through, a couple of pages at a time.

This book is replete with examples for what I mean, but consider this simple sentence when one of the characters speaks to the other:

“All there is to thinking,” he said, “is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren’t noticing which makes you see something that isn’t even visible.”
Maclean, Norman (2009-08-14). A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition (Kindle Locations 1695-1696). University of Chicago Press. Kindle Edition.

“All there is to thinking…” – now this sentence speaks volumes to me because I have often wondered about the mind and how thoughts find a beginning and where they skip across portions of gray matter, picking up little thoughts along the way to add, or dismiss. The skimming of ideas come at a rapid pace, and it is almost impossible to consider all the things you think about less you get bogged down in one place. It is almost like dreaming. You awake, and with a fleeting memory you grasp at the cobwebs attempting to remember the thoughts of your sleeping.

The mind is simply an amazing collection of information, and thinking through them adds depth to one’s ability to communicate!

Hear See Speak no evilIt makes me wonder about all the garbage we allow to fill our mind, and how it shades every action of our lives. Once something enters our mind, there is really no way to remove it.

Once an image is stuck in our minds, or a word has entered our ears, it is often easy to relive these images with how we communicate.

How do we wipe out that garbage from our minds?

The Apostle Paul gives us a hint of possibility:

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV)

This concept of “forgetting” is only found in the New Testament and the word itself is only used eight times in various forms – forget, forgotten, forgetting. Paul uses it in an action setting of describing an ongoing process, and perhaps this is the most difficult thing of all – the continual forgetting of the things behind.

Of all the things we have seen, experienced or read, there is so much we wish we could undo. It is not as simple as running a magnet across a hard drive and scrambling all the magnetic particles that represents data. No, it is an ongoing process of saying “No” to the thought as it swims to the surface, and forcing ourselves to not linger on them – pushing them back. This Greek word of “forgetting” means “to lose out of mind.”

Tell that thought to get lost! When that image shows up in your mind, or even before your eyes… Tell it to get lost. Do not linger on it. Turn and look another direction.

There was a time I was struggling with sleeping. I would awake in a panic of some dastardly dream and could not get rid of the images or thoughts. I finally started thinking about white noise and how it drowns out all the noise you do not want to hear. As an example, I would take a corner of my memory and start filling it with white noise as with an eraser.  I would fill my entire mind with white noise – drowning out the images so I could go back to sleep.

It works even today!

Yet, there are times when a picture can paint a thousand words. Sometimes we struggle with our words and painting an accurate picture. Simply consider those instructions given with furniture and toys that need to be assembled at home. Wow! Sometimes the words make no sense and only a picture can point the way!

Words vs Pictures – I suspect there is a right time and place for each of them…

But for myself, give me the words and you can have the pictures!





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