For as long as I can remember, I've struggled to find the "right" words to explain myself. As an introvert, being misinterpreted is an everyday occurrence. As a writer, I tend to spend more time than I should editing, so you - the reader - will have a clear sense of what I mean. I choose my words carefully but worry I'm still too vague.
"Our language has become perverted along with the thoughts of many of us."
Studs Terkel, This I Believe
This month I'm going to practice releasing the deep desire I have to be understood.
I've changed my mind about language.
I am learning that the language I use may mean something to you that it doesn't mean to me. My words, once spoken or written, become your own to define. During this series, you are going to read my words and thoughts through your own lens of language, and that's okay. We create our own definitions based upon input and experience, and based on what we choose to believe.
It's like blind people touching an elephant, and being asked to describe it. Depending upon which part of the elephant is touched, each person has a different idea of what the elephant is.
I recently met a woman who is from Mexico and has only been in the United States for a few years. She is quite possibly the sweetest, most positive woman I've ever met with a hilarious affinity to swearing. She explained to me after lunch one day, "Swearing in English doesn't mean anything to me. They are just words. But when I swear in Spanish, that's a different story."
The Ground Rules
I'm going to ask one thing of you as you read this series: Don't take it personally. Read my words in your lens of choosing, but recognize I am writing them from my own. Language is as beautiful and complicated as we are, and we can attach to whatever words we need to for our own beliefs to be written and expressed. These are the things I've chosen to change my mind about and I do not expect you to do the same.
Also, I'm going to quote BIG MAGIC incessantly because it has changed my life.
"If people enjoy what you've created, terrific. If people ignore what you've created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you've created, don't sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you've created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name though the mud?
Just smile sweetly and suggest - as politely as you possibly can - that they go make their own fucking art.
Then stubbornly continue making yours."
Elizabeth Gilbert, BIG MAGIC