What If You Had Only 1,000 Words Left To Say… What Would You Do?


How often do we think through the words we say?

That’s an important lesson learned when watching one of Eddie Murphy’s comedies.

One of the biggest ironies of this movie is that Eddie Murphy is well known for his motor-mouth. The movie literally shuts his character up and ‘punishes’ him for speaking too much.

In spite of the outrageous comedy, this movie has one of the most profound lessons of mindfulness I’ve ever seen in a comedy movie and I’d like to share with you it’s profound lessons.

How We Take Our Words For Granted

a-thousand-words-eddie-murphy-2_320It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert – when we think through the words we say, no matter how much and how little we speak – it significant because each word impacts others.

According to Christian traditions, the tongue is one of the smallest members of the body. Yet it’s potential for destruction is unparalleled. A gentle word can soothe an aching heart. On the other hand, a harsh word has the potential to scar another human being for life.

In the movie, Eddie Murphy uses his charm and his words to get himself anything he want. From lying about just having twin babies at the hospital in order to cut queue at Starbucks as well as lying to his valet reviewing one of his writings, he say anything just to get his way.

Empty words, broken promises and hollow sounds were echoed throughout the movie as Eddie’s character leads down a path of self destruction.

The Test Of Our Words

tree-1024x682Eddie’s character met his match when he tries to sign a deal with a spiritual guru. He fakes meditation and enlightenment in order to get an audience with the great man.

Little did he knew that he was about to encounter his biggest test – a Bodhi tree appeared in his backyard representing his very life. The leaves on the branches represents his words.

Every time he speaks a word (yes, even when he writes a word…) a leaf falls off the tree. When all the leaves have fallen off, he dies along with the tree.

This is sheer torture for Eddie’s character – after all, if we are not able to speak, it would be a major inconvenience. Especially when you have to meticulously choose what words to say.

The Less We Say The More We Communicate (Spoiler Alert)

Eddie’s character went through hell. His couldn’t communicate with his assistant. His wife left him and took the baby because he cannot communicate without his words. His boss fired him because he messed things up.

In a fit of rage, he got drunk and started spewing words as though he was ignoring his imminent demise. But when he finally sobered up, he realized that all that was left on the tree was a small branch of leaves.

a-thousand-words-image03He finally realized that he was going to die when he used up the little words he had left and wanted to make the best of the remaining words he had.

He finally reconciled with his wife, appreciated the barista at Starbucks for serving him faithfully, bought the book from his valet (which meant the world to him), spent time with his mother who has dementia and made peace with his deceased father for leaving him when he was young.

He spoke his last words out – “I forgive you” and fell dead at his father’s tombstone.

But shortly after he ‘died’, his ‘tree’ came back to life as his former ‘fake’ self died and he was reborn and in touch with who he truly is.

*Spoilers End Here*

 Lessons From The Movie

I cried after watching the ending. Not because of Eddie Murphy’s moving performance but because of the profound realization that our life and our words are so closely connected.

  • People often spew meaningless words that not only hurt others, but decimate our life force as we perpetuate hate, fear and anger in our meaningless rants. Should we decide to ‘hold our tongue’ we can spare ourselves as well as others hurt and really communicate love.
  • Speaking words doesn’t mean you are communicating. When we talk, we are so busy talking that we might not listen emphatically to others and hear what they are really trying to say. Perhaps that’s the reason why we are born with two ears and one mouth and not the other way.
  • Sometimes, the words that we do not say can hurt others even more. Simple words like, “I’m sorry.” or “Thank you” or “I love you”. These unexpressed words often leave our loved ones longing for it. Perhaps you haven’t said these words in a long time to someone who needs it?
  • Don’t speak with your voice but use your inner voice. The sound of the true you speaks volumes compared to meaningless words uttered in ignorance or annoyance.
  • It is only in the silence can we stop the mental chatter in our heads. We’re not even talking about meditation here. Just sitting down without saying or thinking anything is extremely therapeutic to one’s life.
  • If you had only a few words left to say, how will you make it count? Who will you say them to? And when?
  • Only when we ‘die’ to our fake self – the self that is showy, proving and destructive will we awaken to who we really are and truly live.

Now imagine this…

Imagine if you are using words to give life to others…

Imagine if what you speak, deeply inspire others…

Would you choose to speak and inspire instead of shout and condemn instead?

Would that make a huge change in your life and in the life of others?

Actions really does speak louder than words, right? So let’s start choosing our words and bring life to others.