“More than any other thing, language has the power to alter the outcome of events.” Boccaccio
“In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood.” Henry David Thoreau
Hello again, dear Readers. I am a person who truly loves and appreciates language, and the words which create it. People who know me well are fond of telling me that I never seem to have a lack of words at my disposal, for better or worse. Yet, curiously, these days find me at a nearly constant loss for words. If language can be seen as a kind of out-breath, then just now I am certainly all about the inhale– and consequently, the holding of that breath.
It isn’t writer’s block or anything like that. This lack of words is something altogether new and strange in my life experience. It is not a conscious phenomenon, nor something I am trying to do, like when one attempts to let go of all thoughts during meditation. Rather, what I am experiencing right now has more to do with some kind of metamorphosis, a type of fundamental change deep within the soul. Language as I have known it, no longer seems to be enough.
The times we are now living in, as I have often stated herein this blog, are simply extraordinary and rare. We are living through a fundamental change in the way humanity operates: in simple terms, we are collectively upgrading our operating system as we move into higher dimensionality. This is a fact, dear Readers, it is happening continually and most certainly for many years to come. As the changes occur, what went before, what was considered acceptable before (in words, thoughts and deeds) continue to give way to new and improved modes of being human upon Earth. And so, the words and languages that have served us all our lives up to this point, are beginning to seem nearly irrelevant at times. And yet. As Boccaccio stated seven hundred years ago, language is one of the most powerful tools we humans have at our disposal. Change we must, and so must our language and ways of communicating.
Living in a foreign country for the past three years has taught me a great deal about the problems inherent in language, its limitations, its judgements and its importance. Non-verbal communication, I have learned, will only get you so far when you are out of your native tongue’s area. In a foreign country, people become again like small children, dependent and often helpless to communicate at the same level of sophistication as they are used to doing at home. I have never before in my life felt as stupid as I have since coming to Denmark to live. Why? The answer is basic: if I cannot find the right words to express myself to the outer world, then I simply cannot express who I am, what I think, believe or feel to another, which leads me to feeling embarrassed and stupid, even though I know I am not.
We have all had the experience of trying to tell someone close to us how we REALLY feel about something, searched for the right words to try to tell our story, but no matter how hard we try or how many words we use, the other person still cannot understand us. This is, for me at least, an extremely frustrating situation, that leaves me wondering how in the world I can make this person understand me, what I am trying to tell them, what is in my heart. All these myriad emotions and thoughts swirling about inside of me, dying to get out, to be heard, felt and most of all, understood– and I hit the wall. Add the problem of being among people who don’t speak your language, and the situation is multiplied exponentially. What to do?
Given that it is indeed ‘new times on Earth,’ and the old ways of speaking and communicating no longer really work, then I guess we need a new plan. Perhaps we need a new form of language altogether. Today I was reading a short science fiction story in English to some of my Danish students. In the story, some beings from a far, far distant planet were attempting to communicate with a man here on Earth. They had a lot of trouble even finding anyone with whom to telepathically speak, and then when they did find one, he was very drunk and thought he was simply hallucinating. I asked the students, do you think there is anyone here who is telepathic? They all just shrugged, and then I commented that no, I don’t think that any of us are really able to read each other’s thoughts. But what if we could?
Of course, more and more humans are now finding it possible to hear messages from beings who are not human, not of Earth. Just do a Google search for channeled messages and the amount of webpages and blogs dedicated to this endeavor may astound you. I think it is entirely possible that, with time, humans will be able to learn a different level of communication that is far more sophisticated than using constructed language made up of words. I cannot help but think that the problem of language interferes with the people of the world being able to truly feel at one with each other, at least on some level. A good friend of mine here has illustrated this point to me by reciting some old and, I assume, lovely poetry in Danish. He can remember many poems and verses in his native, beloved mother tongue. And it sounds rather nice, nearly lyrical, as he recites the words. But only when he has afterwards made the effort to translate it into my own precious English do his Danish words give meaning.
When I was a child, I loved to watch mimes, whether on television or on the rare occasion to happen to see one live at a performance. There is something so magical about them, how they can say so much in silence, simply with their facial expressions and body language. With the amount of time that I spend in silence, within my own mind and heart, keeping it all inside of me, I have come to have enormous respect for both silence and for the power of language when used succinctly and well. Boccaccio is right, language well used can affect enormous change in the world.
Here are some quotes about silence, showing very clearly that there are always myriad ways to look upon this particular subject…. you decide.
“A voice is a human gift, it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together.” Margaret Atwood
“True silence is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.” William Penn
“Silence is foolish if we are wise, but wise if we are foolish.” Charles Colton
“The small truth has words which are clear; the great truth has great silence.” Rabindranath Tagore
“We need silence to be able to touch souls.” Mother Teresa
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” Alice Walker
(quotes are from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/silence.html)
- Languages & Thought (gmbcblog.wordpress.com)
- Learning languages…and a cognitive disruption (morethanthisandthat.wordpress.com)