- Culture & Travel
The Power of the Word: author Nikita Singh pens an exclusive essay
Author Nikita Singh opens about her life, the advice her mother gave, and the impact words have made on her life.
When we ponder the power of words, our first instinct is to think about the impact; how effortlessly and profoundly they can affect and alter someone’s life. What interests me, however, is the way words travel across the globe, across time, and present themselves to us exactly when we need them.
When I look back at turning points in my life, I can ascribe the personal and professional triumphs I’ve experienced to the time I spent alone in thought. Solitude, during which I worried and lamented but also planned and worked. The moments where I sat with myself and examined where I wanted to go, and the paths I could take. After all, when our destination is predetermined, it’s not by accident that we reach it.
And yet, I cannot write about the power of the word, without writing about solitude. Solitude is misunderstood. Aloneness is often mistaken for loneliness. We, as a society, are so reliant on each other’s company, constantly building content to distract and entertain each other. At our fingertips are these impossibly powerful devices, which connect us to each other, but perhaps disconnect us from ourselves. Moments of solitude are the real gift. Because words are powerless without reflection, and the deepest contemplation takes place within our own minds.
After school and before college, I found myself lost and confused, burdened with a decision that would affect my entire life. You see, I had decided, as a wildly uninformed child, that I wanted to be a cardiologist when I grew up. This was because I read the term in an issue of Reader’s Digest, and when I asked my mother, she informed me that it meant heart doctor. Many years later, when it was time to take the steps towards that goal, it became clear to me that it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. In the months of turmoil, spent stuck in a limbo, something else maa had said long ago resurfaced in my mind.
“Whatever you do,” she’d said. “No matter what your career path, just make sure you don’t depend on someone else for money.” Her sensible advice was meant to encourage me towards financial independence, and that’s the message I absorbed. Until one day, sitting in my thoughts, the first part of my maa’s words jumped out at me. “Whatever you do…”, she’d said. That must mean that I could do whatever. I could abandon my arbitrary dream and with intention, find a new one. Maa’s words, spoken a long time before and intended for a different purpose, set me free from having to pursue my childish whimsy.
And then, there are all the other times when we hunt for more direct advice. When, looking for direction, for mentorship, for someone to show us the way, we seek wisdom from people before us, those with more experience and success. Words of acclaimed writers and philosophers, artists and entrepreneurs—traveling across centuries and continents to meet us in our hour of need.
When I first started writing books, I yearned for guidance from authors I admired. That was an unreasonable fantasy. What I did have access to was their words. As a 19-year-old college student with an abundance of time, I treated their work as a precious resource. Through their words, the greatest writers of all time taught me exactly what makes a good book. It made my job simple—take steps towards that. I continue to do so today.
Others’ words keep me company through my challenges. How comforting it is, when a reader writes to tell me that my words keep them company through theirs. Words written in another time, another place, waiting patiently until called upon. And that’s the power of words and of solitude, where within pages, we find solace and companionship. They connect us to others, and to ourselves. When we take them, and go to a place within us, they expand before our eyes and reveal their full glorious might.