Cliches are like mosquito bites; they always aggravate when trying to enjoy the cool of a summer evening.
This longing is joy, and it is sorrow. It arises when we see that mother with that child. Or that random passerby with tears in her eyes. What is it? That desire to reach out and comfort, or partake in that gladness. That human emotion. The need for love, and the need for fulfillment, and the frustration which comes when we aren’t there yet, or aren’t feeling it.
A sort of detachment seems so prevalent at this juncture. So many live lives without that attachment, that fundamental, human ability to weep or laugh. I even sit often alone, sheltering myself from either extreme — at times I may dip my toes into the stream, but never immerse myself fully. That would be careless. Surely, jumping in would result in being washed away and drowned. Just a small amount of common sense keeps me shore-bound, and so many others, too, I see along these banks.
Life lived carefully may result in longer life, although perhaps not fuller. This is not to suggest living life in the extreme, but life is not something to be tiptoed over as though it were glass about to shatter. We humans, we use phrases like “heartbreak” or “shattered”, which are both false representations. Life is not glass; it cannot and will not shatter. A bone may shatter, but it can also mend. A heart may stop beating, but it will not break — as far as I know.
Just… dip the gourd in and drink a little. It can’t hurt to experience the stream some. The water is fresh and cool in places, and warm and sultry in others. Besides, the weather is warm. All of us on the bank should grab our tubes, and sunscreen, and float down for a little while.
Words are not necessary to existence. Everything that exists lives, produces offspring, and passes on without ever saying or comprehending a word – that is with the exception of humans, us, the word-bearers, the keepers of spoken language, and we humans thrive on spoken and written words, all of which are unnecessary for survival in the strictest sense, the sense which all other organisms progress and fade away.
One day, in Intro to Philosophy, the professor presented a puzzle on the necessity of a conscious mind – this puzzle dealt with the pondering that conscious awareness may be unnecessary. In the puzzle was presented the case of a condition that robs a person of awareness of anything to one side; let’s say the right. Everything on the left can be seen, comprehended and understood consciously, as most people can, but there is no conscious awareness of anything to the right. A study was done where several specimens with this condition were shone images of two houses which were identical on the left. On the right, however, one was on fire.
In the study, my professor told us, each of the specimens chose the house which was not on fire, thus supporting the notion that a conscious mind is not necessary for survival. Although those who participated in this test were completely unaware that one house was burning down, they understood instinctually that one house presented danger and the other did not.
Regardless of whether conscious awareness of our surroundings is necessary to life, it is fairly obvious that body language is still a more basic, fundamental form of communication than words. Actions speak louder than words is a string of verbiage many of us have heard. It is clear that a person is enraged or caring when looking solely at his actions. Even tone of voice carries more primal meaning compared to words. When speaking to a pet dog, for instance, the most agonizing words, when said in a happy or gentle tone, will only convey happiness and gentleness, or the most loving words in an angry tone will show anger over the words’ definitions. Images, too, are more basic and easily understood than words – a young toddler can understand the meaning of pictures long before she can fully articulate, and certainly before she can read; and traffic signs depend at times solely on shape and image, few even containing words.
Although words may not be necessary on a fundamental level, they somehow hold the key to civilization – it is due to words that concepts like past, present, and future exist, as well as love, truth, faith, beauty; ideals – not all spoken languages contain these concepts. Culture would not exist without spoken language, and it is interesting to reflect, that in Western Culture, those who are high in society go to operas, plays, orations. Words, all words.
Words in themselves seem to hold a sort of fantasy about them, surrealism even. Written pieces, even spoken pieces are constructed. They are like a mystical link between subconscious instinct and conscious awareness of the world, of the divine. The art of rhetoric, whether poorly or skillfully put to use, is the height and limit of the power possessed by words. Somehow, though, words transcend, even the constraints of rhetoric – God the Son holds the title: The Word.
Words lead to life and lead to death – pain, amusement, the realization of love. It is due to words and not actions, tone of voice or instinct that a woman I know remained with her abusive, alcoholic husband for years. Words have the power to create and destroy. How many cities have risen due to words, and wars raged due to words? That is a magnificent level of power packed into a few abstract vowels and consonants arranged into place.
This post is part of an Orthodox synchroblog, that is, a number of Orthodox Christian bloggers have written blog posts on the same general topic on the same day, with links to the other posts on the same topic, so it should be possible to surf from one post to the other, and read them all if one wants to.
The theme of this month’s synchroblog is “The words we use.” This blog is part of the Orthobloggers Synchroblog for July 1, 2012. Other blog sites participating in this theme:
* Bev. Cook (Orthodox Christian) of Bevnal Abbey Scriptorium on “Words and Their Use”
* Cristina Perdomo (Orthodox Christian) of Reachingfromadistance on “Cement”
* Dn Stephen Hayes (Orthodox Christian) of Khanya on “What’s that you were saying?”
* Susan Cushman (Orthodox Christian) of Pen & Palette on “How We Use Our Words: “Christian” is Not an Adjective”
* Katherine Bolger Hyde (Orthodox Christian) of God Haunted Fiction on “Eat Your Words”
* Annalisa Boyd (Orthodox Christian) of The Ascetic Lives of Mothers on “The Words of My Mouth”
* Elizabeth Perdomo (Orthodox Christian) of Living a Liturgical Life on “What About Words?”
* Fr John D’Alton (Orthodox Christian) of Fr John D’Alton on “How we use our words- jihad or struggle?”
* Jane Myer (Orthodox Christian) of The Sounding on “Dear Critical Self”
* Claire Brandenburg (Orthodox Christian) of Holy Watchfulness on “The Word”
* Donna Farley (Orthodox Christian) of The Rafters Scriptorium on “Few and True”
* Fr. Lawrence Farley (Orthodox Christian) of Straight from the Heart on “The Limits of Verbal Communication: Part of a Conversation”
Looking at the dates of my former posts, it has been about a year since I have “had anything burning enough to write down” — at least burning enough to write down and post here.
After a year, a very small happening occurred to bring me back: only the smallest breath of air was required to reach the creative tipping point. I was on the phone with my mom. I remembered I have a blog, and here I am.
1) I was eighteen
and I discovered boys
It’s rather old
to make this connection
– I already knew
the biological differences,
and I knew boys often behave
in curious manners…
What I didn’t understand
is that I needed to behave
differently towards them.
2) I was twenty-one
when I discovered care for someone
does not always mean
that despite what I’ve heard,
guys can be friends too:
3) I was five
when I learned jealousy
– I learned because I felt it
towards a shirley-temple girl
who proclaimed to love
4) I was twelve
when I learned to be awkward
about my guy-friends.
5) I was thirteen
when I learned about crushes
and fifteen when I realized the difference
between love and infatuation –
or thought I did.
6) I was sixteen
when I learned it can be best
to let infatuation fall away
and replaced with
7) When I was seventeen,
I learned to watch
the love of my life from deep within
and nineteen when I realized
he would never love me too.
8 ) When I was nineteen,
9) When I was twenty,
I started seeking
10) I have yet to learn love.
It’s funny, how in groping for so many things, reaching for oneself can be the hardest…
My cell phone screen lights as I press the button to check. The eye in the crying heart stares back — the one that he drew and picture-messaged to me and I was possessed to put as my wallpaper. No messages.
He sent another picture last night, my phone was off, but probably around 5 am his time zone… that’s usually when they come. “It’s alright not to know everything,” was the subtext. He knows I worry.
His time zone used to be my time zone. Before I moved. I feel annoyance towards the hour of separation. Maybe I should begrudge the geography more, but the hour difference is apparent when I look at the messages on my phone. The earth’s curve is hidden by these surrounding mountains.
Back home, it didn’t rain much. We were in a drought. The rain clouds always passed us by anyway. It would get grey. The air would feel drenched, but it would never touch the ground… just the sweat running from our skin might seep into the dust-soil. In the week I’ve been here, it’s rained… more than I can remember. At least four or five times. Not all long showers. But now, the storm is strong. Healthy. Healthy in giving greenness. Around us. Inside, it is still dry…
As I’ve been researching how to acquire a job, as my uncle suggested, I’ve found many articles with tips and links… I found one article repeatedly calling any job seeker dumb. Shackled. Caged. Moronic. It seemed to make sense. It made me want to create, create, create, create, create. Sit down and get to it. Be self-reliant. Drink from the stream, live in the stream, be of the stream. I look at the green outside the window, wet and silvered.
One hour of separation… it rounds up to 2,000 miles. And it’s raining here all the time, and not there. Not there at all except for the drops of perspiration which slide from skin into the ground and are greedily erased. Or tear drops, like the ones coming from the heart with the eye in it. It won’t touch the ground… It is frozen on paper and in pixels and on my cell phone screen. And there it is always raining. Raining with memory while my inside is dry, and the outside around me is drenched.