“If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely. If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative. In our thoughts and words, we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths. Our limitations and joys begin in our hearts. We can always replace negative with positive.” -Betty Eadie
I have been reading a lot about the power of words. The words we use are actually a reflection of how we feel from within. There are programs that use the power of language to combat stress, anger and depression.
With all these thoughts fresh in my mind space, I attended a get together of some good old friends. There, I noticed something very strange. Each sentence ended with a particular phrase. I became aware of it first when I myself used it and then, that phrase is all I could hear.
“I am loving my job. Touch wood. ”
“I am feeling really fit and am aiming a half marathon by next year. Touch wood.”
“My daughter is really good in academics. Touch Wood.”
“I still love my husband. Touch Wood.”
“You are looking fab in the little black dress. Touch Wood.”
“Your son is a very good mannered boy. Touch wood.”
The phrase was used generously not only when we spoke about ourselves, but when we spoke about others too. ( Others in the room only!)
According to Aunt Google, the phrase derives from the pagan belief that malevolent spirits inhabited the wood, and if you expressed a hope for the future you should touch, or knock on, wood to prevent the spirits from hearing and presumably preventing your hopes from coming true.
When I got back from the party, I tried to analyze it a little further. If our words symbolize a certain belief, what could that be?
We still believe there are evil spirits living in those trees far away that are eves dropping on our conversation and trying to prevent our good fortune from coming true.
Possibility No. 2 :
We think those spirits have shifted base from the trees into the wooden furniture around.
Possibility No. 3:
We see those evil spirits in the people seated around us.
I ruled out possibility No.1 because in some cases the trees are so far away that even if the spirits had excellent hearing aids, they would not be able to hear the conversation. Possibility No.2 also seemed like a remote chance because the carpenters would have knocked the wood so many times to make it into a piece of furniture that the spirits would have been driven away. I was only left with possibility No.3 and I could not find reasons to negate it. I was very uncomfortable accepting it though.
I went back to the good old childhood days with similar gang of girls. Our conversations usually were:
“You are looking so smart in that dress. Wow! I want a similar one. ”
“I am gonna become an astronaut when I grow bigger. What about you?”
“I have fallen in love. It is a wonderful feeling. I wish you find someone soon.”
“How can you write so well! I envy your writing skills.”
The obvious difference in the conversations then and now, being the way our feelings were expressed. If I liked your dress, I would say I want one like it. If I wanted to write like you, I would say that I am envious of your writing skills. When I felt really good about something, I would wish you the same.
The touch/knock woods have made every other emotion is my statement secondary. The obvious, loud and clear emotion/feeling present being fear and vulnerability.
I came across another interesting article about the origin of “touch/knock wood”. It said : The other origin they suggest is that some of these tree worshippers laid their hands on a tree when asking for favor from the spirits/gods that lived inside it, or did it after a run of good luck as a show of gratitude to the supernatural powers.
My conclusion from this entire experience is to use the phrase ( If I do ) as an expression of gratitude and not because I think the other person (or that bad spirit that has shifted base into him/her) can prevent me from some good luck that in store for me.