Dear Owl: Vol. 3

owl-fall-color-squareDear Owl,

There’s this cliché phrase that people — at least English-speaking people — use when another person shares really bad news:

Words fail.

I admit I’ve used the phrase myself, never quite sure whether it was an accurate statement or a cop-out. After all, I’ve thought of myself as a writer for the past 10-15 years, I have a degree in English Literature, and I’ve been using the English language to communicate for over a half-century.

Did words fail?  Really? Or, did I?

Of course, Owl, you don’t use any words at all, and that’s why I thought of you today.

See, the thing is, I’m experiencing a period of acute word fatigue these days. I spent much of the past year writing my memoir, I’ve now published a dozen and a half blog posts, I read words for hours everyday, in books, magazines, and on the internet, and I converse with friends and family for hours as well. (That many of the words in use lately deal directly or indirectly with my ALS diagnosis — discussions with care providers, end of life planning, philosophical explorations related to end of life, etc. — it’s not what I’d call fun.)

Therefore, if I could stop with the words for a while, in favor of a small assortment of hoots, and other sounds, as you are accustomed to, well, that seems incredibly refreshing to me right about now! Imagine no etymology, the simplest grammar, no reading or writing!

I might, for instance, say something like: Hoot, Hoot, Hoooooooooooot! Or, maybe: Hoot Hoot, Hoot-Hoot! Or, Hoot, Screech, Hoot! Maybe I’d sing acapella versions of my favorite songs substituting owl sounds for words!

Not that I’d know at all what I was communicating, but it’d be a nice change of pace!

Now, the irony that I’m using words in order to describe this all to you, Owl, does not escape me. In fact, I feel downright silly.

So, I’ll wrap up.

I imagine that your owlets are keeping you busy these days. In fact, I’ve been seeing a very big raven circling around in the sky lately, so I hope your babies are safe!

Until next time,


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