"I Ain't Got the Words."
12 January 2013
My Old Testament professor in Seminary built his curriculum around quotes from the movieTombstone. I believe that some movie scripts were written specifically around memorable quotes that the screenwriters knew could stand on their own and would become lasting reminders of the movie. Most of Anchorman is written that way, in such a manner that men can communicate through quotes, without ever saying much or being too vulnerable.
Men test out the waters of vulnerability with trepidation, because loyalty and trust are not easily given, and are too expensive to be wasted. Very little can be said between two men who have a deep, abiding trust in one another. Words always fall short in regards to the sacred places in life. Nowhere in cinema or literature is this said more succinctly and truthfully than in the simple phrase from Turkey Creek Jack Johnson to Wyatt Earp,
“Wyatt, I ain’t got the words.” – Jack
“I know. Me neither.” - Wyatt
In that one , 10-word exchange you can hear the echo of loyalty through the valley of the shadow of death through which Wyatt Earp and his Immortals had just ridden. You also hear the emptiness in a “goodbye,” and the sorrow of leaving someone within whom you had placed your life, even if just for a few moments. Nothing can sum it up, and “thanks” falls impotently short of communicating it all.
These men had found themselves thrown into an overwhelming situation, fighting for their lives and the well-being of others. Defending against tyranny and evil takes a man right up to the edge and lets him look down over it, and won’t let him back away until he has spent time contemplating his own mortality. He has soberly counted the cost, and in his head, made peace with having left a world behind that he knows full-well he may never see again. Detractors may say that it is an over-dramatization of reality to characterize it as such. Those who have lived through it know differently. They understand that nothing can over-dramatize the sacred, for the gravitas of those moments is weighty enough. They also know that words can profane the sacred, attempting to make it a mundane experience in which all may step in order to gain vicarious sensory knowledge. I could detail every sight, sound, smell, and tactile sensation of a sacred moment, but you will find it lacking, and I will find myself staring into the distance for an undetermined amount of time.
A conversation with those who have looked down over the edge, who have seen the other side, doesn’t require a lot of words. Most times it’s a look, usually of profound sadness because you know, you close your eyes, you can see the exact moments that changed your soul, which etched an indelible mark by which you interpret the remainder of your life. A Rosetta Stone of Sacred Wisdom, if you will. When you ride through hell with a friend and your soul is changed in similar ways, you share a likeness and when reliving those sacred moments, it is as if you are looking into a mirror. Looking into the bottomless depths of mortality and eternity, where one no longer questions the meaning of life, but just appreciates it.
“What did you want?”
“Just to live a normal life.”
“There’s no normal life, Wyatt. There’s just Life.”
And so the past few months of reliving the profound sadness that surrounds the actions of 3 October, 2009 through the eyes of a book and now the solemn relief which comes through acknowledging the heroic actions of dozens of men, by recognizing the honorable bravery of one, releases the flood of sacred memories, harnessing the senses to the willpower of the past. And it is in those moments when messages and emails begin to be exchanged, each of us checking on the other, acknowledging closeness and intimacy which transcends the miles and the years, as people groping about in a dark cavern might reach out to assure themselves that they are not alone, and to attempt to navigate the shadows together.
For those who know, no words are necessary. For those who do not, no words will suffice.