Lost for Words

Something that has fascinated me when it comes to communication is when someone is at a loss for words. Those few short moments, whether because of the shock of a situation, lack of vocabulary, or just not really thinking of anything better to say, is interesting to think of. There are 171,146 words in the English language, and not a single one could sum up what has just been experienced. All those missed opportunities for hilarious jokes, heartwarming statements, or just something to fill the space, lost because our mind decided to be in the moment a little too much. It is strange.


When Yuri Gagarin completed the most harrowing 14 minutes of his life and stared upon a sight that no human had ever seen before, all he could say was: "It is blue." He could not think of a single way to describe the wonder of what he was seeing. Is it anywhere near similar to "One small step for man?" No. It's a pretty generic quote, said thousands of times with words that have existed for thousands of years. A toddler could say the same thing if they were with him. But it is in that loss of words that astounds me. He could have had a ten-page speech prepared, peer-edited, practiced, and still, all he could let out of his brain was "It is blue." And because of that, the first words a human ever said outside of that blue thing, that I think it is one of the best quotes of all time. He sat there in space for another hour, reading off instruments, trying not to die, hopefully communicating with mission control and all those subsequent words he spoke, no matter if they were mission-related or not, cannot sum up how much was said with just three words. The biggest Soviet victory in the Cold War, a moment that could have been used as propaganda and a proud moment for his nation and shaming of the United States, and at that moment, he forgot all of that. At that moment, he was not a Russian or even an astronaut, he was a human. That loss for words has said more than any other combination of those 171,146 words ever could by any man, ever.

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