Sometimes my thoughts drift to the people and places I’ve known throughout the years.

As I have gotten older, sometimes my mind begins to wander, and I think about the meaning of certain words and phrases.

For instance: “your word.”

What does it mean to you and to others?

A “man’s word” had a sincere meaning. Same as a handshake.

“He’s as good as his word.”

What about “let it go?”

It used to bring to mind the act of setting something free.

To me, it means to move on, to forgive others – and yourself.

So often, I’ve heard the words “time heals” associated with the death of a loved one.

Does time heal?

Surely the passage of time softens the sharp edges of pain, but sometimes it will resurface when you least expect it.

And then there is the rhyme we all learned as children, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

As adults, we come to realize that the words of that rhyme are far from the truth.

Words do indeed cause pain, and that pain can last a lifetime.

Sometimes a lack of words can hurt us.

When you feel like you’ve been snubbed or slighted by someone, you will wrack your brain trying to figure out why. And, quite often, the other person’s actions were unintentional – they had nothing to do with you.

Bullying is so prominent now – in person and on social media. Bullying is not new. It has been around for ages. I’m grateful to be able to say that, growing up, I did not witness any bullying in my schoolmates.

Words from a bully can also lead to pain that lasts a lifetime, and has, too often, led to the bullied person taking his or her own life.

And then, there are lies.

Lies have been around and have been causing trouble since the beginning of time.

Take a minute to think about your words. Do they comfort and encourage, and are they kind.

To paraphrase a quote by the poet Rumi, “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”