Words go together in zillions of ways. Some ways go shallow and some ways go deep.
My love for words began on a hike in the woods. My father and I had stopped to watch a swarm of bees work some wild flowers along the trail. I knew the bees were gathering honey but wondered if there was something else going on. When we got home, my curiosity led me to a library where I discovered it wasn't a one-way affair: those flowers were gathering pollen from the bees. Watching bees buzzing from flower to flower wasn't enough. I needed words to transform my observations into meanings. My love of words was born in those woods, and grew up in libraries where language became a door to learning.
My relationship with words became a symbiotic relationship like the relationship between birds and bees. Bees do things to flowers. Flowers do things to bees. Words do things to me. And that makes me love them. My boyish enthusiasm for words became a creative, make-believe world where I bought them ice cream and arranged family reunions with their prefixes and suffixes.
Words you write matter. We discussed this in the essay on Memoirs. But words others write can matter too. Some of them can be read in seconds but remembered for a lifetime because they have heart and meaning for you. Set aside pages in your scrapbook where you can write those words down. Call those pages Words that Matter. They will give you specific ways of thinking about things that matter. Then get beyond merely thinking to acting on them.
Keep your ears open for things people say too—in a movie, on the television or in real life. Just the other day I was in the checkout lane at a grocery store. A man in the checkout lane next to mine was yanking the leash on his dog, making it gasp for breath. The woman in front of me turned to her son and said, "You can judge the heart of a man, Johnny, by the way he treats his dog." When I got home, I added what she had said to my Scrapbook of...