Archived Story

If You Can Read This….

Published 10:14am Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Consider this. Right now, at this very moment, I am nowhere near any of you, yet my thoughts are entering your head.

“Black cows on green grass.” Now, tell me what you are thinking.

“Fresh fried chicken.” How about now? I’ll bet you can even smell it!

“A clock ticking on a quiet day.” Can you hear it? You are, even now, participating in an extraordinary activity called “reading.” Consider what had to take place for you to effortlessly share in this endeavor.

Someone, somewhere had to come up with the concept of attaching human utterings to things. Not so much making the sound itself as deciding this sound will represent that thing. That in itself is a highly sophisticated pursuit.

All of us learned our words by mimicking sounds of which we were already familiar. But which one of us can claim to be the first to invent such connection?

That to touch your lips together twice while making the “ahh” sound would be a reference to a particular being in your life apart from whom you would not exist? (Mama!)

Now, to take it a step further. Someone, somewhere came up with the concept of making a symbol representing a particular sound so that when you saw that symbol, you would think of that sound.

A horizontal line over a vertical line would make the “tuh” sound. (T!) A half-circle with a vertical line going up the left side would make a “duh” sound. (D!)

It is not so much the actual working out of the process so much as someone saw the value of the concept itself and worth the effort to systematize it.

Now, one last step. Someone, somewhere not only considered all these concepts significant, but saw value in showing others how it all worked. So much so that some would make it their life work to teach it to other human beings

And so today, the year 2012, when I scratch on paper these marks — “sunlight”— you know exactly what I am talking about. Amazing!

You and I get all the benefits from all the efforts through all the years, but we had so little to do with it! Remarkable!

So this week, before eating “turkey” and “mashed potatoes” smothered with “gravy,” consider the fact that you can actually “read.”

And give “thanks!”

REX ALPHIN of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is

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