by Marisa Papen

The curves of your words can tell stories beyond you
They can also convey nothing at all

Yet Here I am
Writing you
You live through me
And I live through you

My eyes use you to make sense of what I see
You have grown inseparable from the idea

Language, what do you mean?
Are you the truth of all things?
Or just the title of a song?

As the mast of my memory
The translator of my heart
The narrative of my dreams
You have painted a world of words for me
You have given my tongue sounds of knowledge
But without you, would I bow with gestures of universal knowing?

Language, don’t just teach me how to speak
Teach me how to understand the voice of the wind and the trees

Like everything in life, this text also requires from you to approach it with presence and intention (rhythm, intonation, feeling, open heart) if you want to receive in its fullest, richest meaning.

Essence of Language

We have laid our experience and understanding of life in the hands of language. We have allowed language to hold our lives for us. Our mind names things and moments before we get the chance to truly sense what it is we see and feel. Our childlike nature of being mesmerized with the smallest gush of wind or a fallen leaf or a drop of rain has lost its enchantment because we think we know it. We think we know it because we can name it.

Does language inhibit us from experiencing the truth we live in?

Language is but the title of a song. It possibly describes what you are about to hear but until you hear it, experience it, you can only intuitively guess for the journey, the melody and the depth of its sound.

It feels contradictory to sentence language with language. Sometimes seemingly language frees itself from language, it moves beyond form, the word feels full of what it is and then the word becomes it.

A word sounds full when it is feeling who speaks
But then again…
What is the word?
And what is the feeling?
If the word can’t exist without the use of our voice
Without the writing of our hand
If the word can not be without us
What is it?

Ingredients of Language

The ingredient is not the seasoning and the seasoning is not the ingredient. If we want to understand the heart of the ingredient, we have to taste it in its raw pure form. Then we can name it. Then we can season it.

When we only notice the added human layer of what we perceive or consume, we do not experience fully.

To name something and to see it for just its name is to only taste its human flavor, its seasoning. The ingredients are left untouched, unsavored. Without much attention we constantly change the sweetness, the softness of things into strong pungent expressions. However, if seasoning understands the ingredient, if it knows its origin, its vibration, its purpose, its essence, it can transform ingredients into poetry or music and we experience softness again. It can even enhance the ingredient and make it more delicious & digestible to us.

When language does capture the essence of what we perceive through vibration or aesthetic,, it can open the heart. For example, words like God or the Sun. We don’t know what the Sun or God thoroughly is but the way it feels when you speak or hear it generates a feeling of truth. There is truth that the ingredient and the spice are symphonic and perhaps in togetherness create an even more touching, colorful experience. 

When we can hold something with a single word in our mouth, kept silent or spoken out loud, the experience of it becomes available to us. We have penetrated it and it has penetrated us. We can now not only speak it - we can be it. But we should always first listen and listen and listen again, and when we can finally hear its whisper, then we can name it. And perhaps over time its whisper changes, we have to keep listening with our complete presence to see if its name still applies.

Layers of Language

For practical purposes naming things is pretty convenient. But we should not just communicate about our bodies and our origin in a technical way. We should do so in a more whole, all-encompassing way. A way that considers the beauty and the mystery that everything, including us, is made of.

What we currently name our genitalia in our agreed upon language is not simply reducing them but it is putting them into a category that they do not belong to.

For our Flowers of Life project we opted to use the word vagina since it is the most universally understood definition of the female genitalia. It is an effort to unveil her layers and to help us to understand what she is. It is a doorway for a dialogue to rewrite our meaning of the vagina so we can name her and re-imagine our relationship to her. Flowers of Life stretches beyond vocabulary, it uses the language of art to communicate the many facets of the vagina. Naming it vulva or yoni, even if it is technically the correct term, will not change our relationship to it.

To be overly sensitive to words can be distracting and dividing, when in essence we believe in the same idea. To focus on definitions is to deny the fullness of existence. It is a missed opportunity for coming together, for helping one another to change the problem we both want to solve.

Flowers of Life is about our perception of the vagina rather than what we call her. In our opinion our genitalia have been labeled without much consideration of connotation. We feel that ‘Flower of Life’ is the closest and truest definition but we had to make the bridge between old language and new understanding.


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