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Inspiration Prompt – Speak As Your Next Word Will Be Your Last

November 16th, 2009 by Avital
[Photo by: Andrew Storms]

Charles de Lint had suggested an interesting notion:

“Here’s a weird thought: What if everyone only has so many words inside of them? Then sooner or later you’d run out of words, wouldn’t you? And you’d never know when it was going to happen because everybody would have a different allotment, it would be different for everyone – the way hair colour varies, or fingerprints. I could be in the middle of a story, and then run out of words, and it’d never be finished.”

Play with this idea, what if your next word will by your last?

What if you only manage to insult but not to ask for forgiveness?
What if you only manage to receive but not to give thanks?
What if you only manage to think of an idea but not to share out loud?
What if you only manage to remember but not to tell?

“These are thought provoking questions but I will never overextend my word-quota”, you may think.

Well, think again.

Let me share a story with you.

A story about an independent woman who had survived major hardships in her life but kept moving forward. Had started a new family after her fiance perished in the holocaust. Had built a successful business. Had always made sure her hair is flawless, her lipstick is meticulously applied and her suit is perfectly ironed. Always a suit, even on a trip to the supermarket or when picking up her granddaughter from kindergarten.

This woman had a million stories to tell. Every day, at lunch time, after picking up her granddaughter and making sure she clears up her plate, she would open the big sofa bed in the guest room and tell her stories. Such wonderful stories. Books she had read. Adventures she had gone through and her granddaughter would listen with glistening eyes, asking: “please, grandma, tell me one more story”, and she did.

The years had passed and the granddaughter grew up. She didn’t need a babysitter anymore and forgot all the stories that had been told before and abandoned the stories that has not yet been told.

One day, in the spring time, the woman came by to visit her granddaughter and brought her some sweets. The granddaughter enjoyed the break and the sweets but quickly said her goodbyes, as she was busy studying for her finals.

An hour later the woman came back. Sweets in her pocket and the granddaughter thanked her and said goodbye again.

An hour later and she came back again. Sweets in her pocket again and the granddaughter started to worry and to understand.

Not long afterward Alzheimer disease was diagnosed.

Soon after that all the stories has been forgotten and lost forever.

The hasty granddaughter, if you haven’t realized by now – is me!

The word quota may be over extended and if it happens, it will take you by surprise.

So make sure you tell all the stories (and write them down). Articulate your idea in words and don’t shy away. Verbalize your gratitude. Speak with a positive note and always start with the compliment before moving on to a constructive criticism. Speak as your next word will be your last.


Please share your thoughts about the idea of a finite word quota and leave a comment on this post. I love to hear your mental voice and to keep the discussion going whenever it’s possible.

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8 Comments to “Inspiration Prompt – Speak As Your Next Word Will Be Your Last”

  1. Good morning dear Chouette ( “shoe-ette””)

    Well you did it again, and I’m moved to tears because that story is also my story.

    My Mémé Olga who fled germany with her newlywed after 1933. My Mémé didn’t not like to share her stories too much, it was too painful and she was much at ease speaking german which I didn’t understand…. she slipped away into illness and the stories with her…I MUST write the few I know down.

    Thank you for the reminder.

    • Avital says:

      Dear Alexandra,

      I had luck. My grandmother did share all her stories. She would open the photo box and go through all the yellowing photos and tell me about everything. From her life as a spoiled rich girl through fleeing to the Russian border, getting caught and sent to a labor camp in Siberia.

      Non of my other family members talked, but my grandma did and I haven’t taken the time to write it down and now she isn’t speaking anymore. In her mind she’s still the 16 year old girl, sliding on the ice rink and dreaming big…

  2. Melanie K. says:

    Just so you know, I work at a pharmaceutical company that is trying our best to beat this horrid disease.
    And stories … so many and I often think I need to write/tell someone these. Also, with my mom’s passing this year, I keep thinking of all the things I wanted to ask her … and just never did.
    Hugs to you.

  3. Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

  4. Jocelyn says:

    Taly, am so proud of you girl (and a little jealous).
    At Mom’s funeral I gave this call to action: share a story. Any story will do but my experience is that the BEST stories are the ones the teller doesn’t think are worth sharing.

    I’m sorry your nana has alzheimers. I really don’t think it’s a horrid disease.

    Please remember just because your nana can’t “remember” you, it does not mean that she doesn’t KNOW you.


    • Avital says:

      Thank you Joce. It’s isn’t easy for me to share stuff like that, but I believe the greater good is important in this case.

      I actually can see a light being lit in her eyes when I get into the room, and that small gesture means the world to me.

      Sometimes I think that after everything she’s been through, maybe it’s good for her to go back to her 16 y/o self.

      I just wish I kept record of all her wonderful life stories…