I've heard multiple times how nonverbal communication takes up the majority of our communicative understanding.
Language is such a small portion of the communication spectrum, yet I often find myself placing a huge weight on the impact of words. I feel pressured to fight for my words to be heard or understood by making them interesting. I have to make a joke or create an image to illustrate how my words have importance, which sometimes feels like it has as much chance at success as the green party during a presidential election (shout-out to the recent voters, woot woot). Other times, I feel like I'm just living in a world where Word Crimes are the emotional base for everyone's communication.
I often think that other people don't care nearly as much as I do about the words we're saying/writing/reading. After all, the phrase "actions speak louder than words" has grown into a more-than-common idiomatic expression. Perhaps it's because I don't think I'm the greatest wordsmith on Earth, but when I hear someone say the word "quintessential" I instantly imagine that the person is... uhm... beyond fetching and magnanimously eloquent..? (Thesaurus.com for the win)
Now, I don't mean vocabulary is everything. Phraseology is a tool within language, yes, but it isn't the core behind it. We choose our words based on how we feel and what we're thinking. What inspires me is when people are able to communicate powerfully and differently with words. For example, I've got a friend who loves to talk. One might say she needs to. Every time she makes a connection in her head, she's got a bucket of personal stories and anecdotes to share. While I also love to communicate with words (another way of saying I, too, like to talk a lot), I don't use words in the same way she does. My conversations are riddled with emotional descriptors and passion about how things made me feel, while her conversations tend to bring zealous attention to ideas and thoughts. I love talking with her, because all I want to do is listen. It fuels me.
What I find fascinating about all this is how words build connections. It's part of why I love theatre. I recently was in a show, a farce called See How They Run, and it made me realize the power of words in so many ways.
If a word was spoken at a different time (or dropped completely), the effect on the audience could be drastically different. In addition, the characters are pushed to a point beyond reason and stability. As an actor, dealing with this incredibly precise timing of words and an emotional and logical journey of extremes can be very taxing. What I discovered through it all was that my natural inclination to the power of words combined with the heightened extremes of farce made the show incredibly important to me.
The character, the relationships, and the emotional attachments I built over the run of the show feel like they've been severed, as it just closed yesterday. It's part of the beauty and pain of this art. You build such brilliancy and share it with the world, but before you know it, it's gone forever. The language of the art is temporal emotion.
This is universal. Everyone experiences the powerful temporary love or hate of a moment in time. You build up to a moment, it lasts, and then it falls. What can be immensely difficult is moving forward, past the end of it, and into the next moment. Sometimes, you take pictures (be them physical, digital, or mental) and you store them away for rediscovery. Then, when you rediscover them, you find an attachment you didn't know you had, one that will never truly fade. So it is with many things; relationships, friendships, school, new jobs, new places to live, new moments in time.
Yet through it all, there is only one thing words can never quite capture: a memory. Memories are thoughts and feelings tied together within the plastic synapses of our brains that associate themselves with events and people. No matter how hard you try, a memory will never be communicated how it is to YOU. Each memory makes its impact on you, pushes you towards the next moment, and reminds you of the previous. Without memories, the world seems distant, unforgiving, and lonely. With memories, we are never alone and we continue forward, into the ever present unknown.
Sometimes, I find that these memories block out my thoughts and my feelings, and all I can do is sit inside of my memory, waiting for something or someone to tell me what to do next. I see a photo or I remember a story, and my thoughts go blank and my feelings turn sharp, and the world suddenly turns into a mess of scratches and scratch paper. Friends of the past, journeys and events, and the person I used to be becomes a tangled web of identity and confusion until I decide to turn around and walk down the path of life with a trail of webs clinging to my feet. It's frightening to look back at what once was and imagine what could have been and what still could be.
In the end, there's only one thing I'll find myself wanting to do.
Through the language of life, it all comes down to finding a willingness to share what I've done, the places I've been, the thoughts I've had, the feelings I've endured, and the mistakes I've avoided talking about. It's all part of who I am now. I am who I am, and that's a fact. I was made this way. I was meant to be this way. I will not deny the Way.
Don't lose sight of your memories. Don't regret your previous moments. Don't move forward without looking back.
And don't forget to share them with your words. :)
Here's a poem I wrote that also explores this, if you're interested