THE New York Times bestseller entitled “The Right Words at the Right Time” by Marlo Thomas and Friends is an inspiring collection of stories of more than a hundred remarkable people such as Muhammad Ali, Walter Cronkite, Al Pacino, Steven Spielberg, Cindy Crawford, Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey and more, who reached back into their own lives and shared that special moment when simple words made all the difference.
I have come to believe that each of us is shaped by the messages we allow ourselves to digest at various points in our lives. Solicited or not, some words have the power to kill, heal or change us. And when life suddenly tastes like lukewarm beer, the right words at the right time could serve as the perfect inspiration.
As I turn another year older this month, allow me to revisit those words that somehow defined moments in my own life, revealing truths that have stayed with me for a long time.
Similar to a high school musical, what follows are lines borrowed from a song, poem, or script. Like the hundreds of remarkable people in the book, I share these in the hope that these right words at the right time for me might also be just that to someone else.
2003: Getting the worst haircut: “I am beautiful no matter what they say, words won’t bring me down.”– Christina Aguilera
2004: Leaving my comfort zone: “And I won’t look back / I can go the distance /And I’ll stay on track /No, I won’t accept defeat / It’s an uphill slope / But I won’t lose hope / Till I go the distance / And my journey is complete” – Hercules
2005: Falling in love: “When you feel it, just say it -- say it out loud. Or the moment will just pass you by.” – My Best Friend’s Wedding
2006: When it was complicated: “There’s a fine, fine line between together and not/ And there’s a fine, fine line/ between what you wanted and what you got/ You gotta go after the things you want while you’re still in your prime/There’s a fine, fine line between love/ And a waste of time.” – Kate Monster of Avenue Q
2007: Crashing: “Don’t let yourself go, cause everybody cries, everybody hurts sometime, so hold on, hold on” – REM
2007: Finding cheerleaders across the miles: “Let’s make a new world now/ Where we can wear each other for awhile / I’ll lend you my tears if I could borrow your smile / We’ll get through tomorrow somehow today / Happy After / Once upon these days” -- Chantal Kreviazuk, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
2008: Letting Go: And you begin to learn/ That kisses aren’t contracts/ And presents aren’t promises / And you begin to accept your defeats/ With your head up and your eyes ahead/ With the grace of a woman / Not the grief of a child/ And you learn /That you really can endure / That you really are strong / And you really do have worth / And you learn/ and you learn/ With every good bye you learn. -- Veronica A. Shoffstall (1971)
2009: Moving On: “Everything and this, too, shall pass” – Mom
But then, when words fail at the worst times, I simply go to a quiet place and pray, for baby, truly, God still say it best when we say nothing at all.