Infinite words but just one small life.

Sailboats moored near Shelter Island, downtown San Diego skyline in the background.
Sailboats moored near Shelter Island, downtown San Diego in the background.

Anyone who tries to write soon realizes a daunting truth. There are countless possible stories to tell, and numberless ways to tell each one. Infinity multiplied by infinity amounts to a whole lot of indecision!

Last weekend I stood on a patch of beach on Shelter Island. A sailboat moored nearby fascinated my eye, and I puzzled over its profound complexity for several minutes. How could I accurately paint that sailboat with words? How could I phrase the most perfect description? Is it even possible? With a million words is it possible?

As I watched the bobbing boat and struggled to sequence potent adjectives, a sudden thought shook me: Writing’s purpose, like art’s purpose, isn’t to replicate the world. It’s to stretch our minds. That is all.

Words are limitless. As limitless as the universe. They allow us to travel anywhere, in any direction.

A few well-directed words can focus our minds (for a moment) on overlooked things; they can help us see vague things more vividly. Words can seek and memorialize those things that seem important. Words tossed about can provoke hidden feeling and allow us to draw nearer to others. Words, when magical, can help us to discern whispers of meaning in the echoing vastness around us.

Our lives are finite. But the infinity that is contained in words can expand our lives. That is their purpose.

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Cool new Pocket Park opens in East Village.

New pocket park in East Village in downtown San Diego.
New pocket park in East Village in downtown San Diego.

Today a very cool new public park opened. It’s called Pocket Park. You’ll find it near the corner of 13th Avenue and J Street in East Village, which is a booming neighborhood in the east part of downtown San Diego. Tucked between buildings on either side, the clever little park will make a great gathering place for the neighborhood.

Large letters on the ground and stacked pallets form a gigantic word find. The puzzle contains words like PADRES and PETCO, which are associated with East Village. The Downtown San Diego Partnership helped to make this new park a reality.

Looks like a great place to relax and read a book!

People enjoy new cozy, creative urban park.
People enjoy new cozy, creative urban park.
Letters on the ground and pallets form a big word find puzzle.
Letters on the ground and pallets form a big word find puzzle.
Finding words about local places requires a bit of looking.
Finding words about local places requires a bit of looking.
Folks enjoy opening day of the new pocket park.
Folks enjoy opening day of the new pocket park.
Sign describes this lively and engaging space.
Sign describes this lively and engaging space.
East Village has a cool new gathering place.
East Village has a cool new gathering place.

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Colorful chalk wisdom on a Little Italy sidewalk.

Is it right, true, needed--then say it!
Is it right, true, needed–then say it!

A couple days ago I spotted these colorful words of wisdom on a Little Italy sidewalk.

A big rainstorm is coming. The chalk will be washed away.

Be aware. Love you.
Be aware. Love you.
Kiss a friend.
Kiss a friend.
Chalk flowers on sidewalk.
Chalk flowers on the sidewalk.
You are perfect.
You are perfect. (Even, perhaps, if nobody is.)

To eyes that see, these words give life.

shakespeare sonnet by old globe theatre

This small monument to William Shakespeare is located just across from the outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, not far from the Old Globe Theatre. The San Diego Museum of Art’s Sculpture Garden can be glimpsed in the background, beyond a fence.

The words beneath the Bard’s sculpted head and pen compose the memorable conclusion to his Sonnet 18:

“So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

reading in plaza by old globe theatre

These nearby tables in Balboa Parks’s theatre complex are a fine place to find life in the written word.