I was reading some quotes today from famous writers, and one little snippet in particular caught my attention and caused me to think about a few things.
“A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. ~Henry David Thoreau
It’s true that we can’t live without the beauty of nature; the sights, sounds, and smells that are above us, below us, and all around us. And why should that beauty be lost in words? Why can’t we articulate those very fine details that characterize our moments? I think that we have somewhat lost the art of description. I mean, why do we feel the need to describe the vivid colours or earthy smell of something that can be so articulately described in an instagram photo with a few vague hashtags? (Insert sarcasm here.)
The other day I was driving through the prairies at sunset, heading west. The golden hour. The last rays of sunlight were covering the fields with golden hues, the contrast between the fields of hay and the blue sky really capturing me. And how did I express this? An instagram photo accompanied by #opensky. That really does it, right? You can imagine the hay bales moving quickly by, the fields flickering with gold, the shadows dancing, the land moving beside you like an ocean as you drive through it, moving, bending, dancing towards the horizon.
I’m not trying to make a legalistic case for applying the skills we’ve all learned of good grammar, I just seek to bring attention to the lack of attention we give our words. Writers, we have a burden to bear; a responsibility to let our words do justice to the world. Do justice to the beauty, the mysteries, the sights, sounds and smells that we experience every day.
So next time you decide that a moment is “instagram worthy,” I challenge you to think of the words that really illustrate what you are seeing, hearing, smelling and experiencing, and describe it. Don’t use a hashtag; write a sentence.