With two of my children being completely unable to use language in a meaningful way, and the third being able to outfox me in any argument because of her highly developed skills in language and her spookily accurate memory, I spend a lot of time considering the complexities of language.
Sometimes it seems to me that language has evolved further than the limits of its original intention. A little bit like the service robots of science fiction, invented to serve us and be useful in a simple day to day way, but then going on to surpass our intelligence and dominate the world.
Words were invented by our pre-verbal ancestors as a means of warning, labeling and recording. Then they went on to express feeling and emotion, to express wonder about the future and to reminisce about the past. Now as I observe the use of language in typical people, it seems that we can almost switch off our emotions, and let the scripts take care of business. Like two armies fighting a battle while the generals enjoy a whiskey in the mess hall, we often seem detatched from our conversations, sticking to our lines without the inconvenience of truly connecting with the person that we are speaking with.
Without language at her disposal, my middle daughter Daisy has only her friendly intent, her pure love, the shining soul that is seen so easily through the windows of her beautiful eyes. These are her tools for netting friends. It has to be said that she uses them to great effect. Once she has targeted her intended friend, shone the light of that love on them, touched their face and bestowed a smile like the sun coming out from behind the clouds, people tend to remember her forever. I often bump into people who have met her only once or twice, but are clearly delighted to know her, tell me that they think of her often. She pops up in people’s dreams all of the time (speaking, strangely enough) and I’m always happy when people share these dreams with me.
If we use our words frivolously, always secure in the knowledge that there are thousands more at our disposal once we’ve thrown a handful in this direction, or a handful in that direction, do the words lose their meaning?
I decided upon a small experiment where I would drastically reduce my language, and increase the value of my interactions. In every conversation, I would only ask a question if I was interested in the response, and had time to listen to and act on the answer. I would say the things that I really meant, rather than what was expected of me. Applying ‘mindfulness’ techniques to all of my human interactions.
I use very reduced language at home with the children anyway, so this came quite easily to me, once I had decided to give it a go.
The results were startling. Three conversations ended in a physical embrace. Someone I hardly knew at all told me that it was so good to talk to me, and could we meet for coffee or something soon. This was all in the space of an hour or so. Perhaps it would be too exhausting to put so much effort into interactions all of the time. Or maybe the slicing away of hundreds of words from our daily lives would even things out.
At the moment I’m sold on being more like Daisy, more feeling, less words. So on that note, I’ll sign off. 🙂