Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lost for words . . .

I wonder . . . have you noticed the bad habit that I've developed?
Time and again I start these letters with a polite enquiry, "If you've time . . . " I say, or "Have you a spare moment . . . ?"
The unwritten inference being that if you haven't the time, or the spare moment, that's not going to deter me . . . I'll keep going!
I'm writing . . . you're expected to do the reading.

About to start this letter with a similar expression, the thought occurred to me that, as a habit, it could be far more pernicious than I'd realised.
I really do hope you have a spare moment as I'd love to share the outcome of my pondering.

I'm sure you'd agree that we live in a social climate which fosters self-expression. A climate in which we are encouraged to air our views, share our ideas and discard our inhibitions. The stiff upper lip has become tremulous and we have all become confessional. Have you noticed how television and radio programmes constantly urge us to participate? What's more, when it comes to passing judgement, we are the ones, not the experts, who are expected to cast the final vote.

So, where has this all led? To what would seem an intoxicating sense of individual empowerment. We put our videos on YouTube, develop personal websites and blogs, express our views forcibly on Facebook and Twitter, and keep our opinions endlessly circulating by means of emails and mobile phones.

But, I wonder, do you share my nagging doubts about the one-sided nature of this rush to self-expression?
Are we, perhaps, too busy talking to listen? In our efforts to express ourselves, have we become too busy writing to read?

To make matters worse, we find ourselves in competition with a rampant and often hysterical media. Each day more television channels come on air, more radio stations fight for listeners, more advertisers compete for our market, more and more books are published and newspapers compete with each other in terms of sheer bulk. In this battle for attention, we're all in there . . . fighting to hold our positions on the front line!

Words pile up on each other, confuse each other, drown each other.
"Have you seen . . . ? Have you read . . . ? Have you heard . . . ?" how can we
possibly cope with the plethora?

Let's pause for a moment. Surely the need is not for more 'filling' but for more space?

Sitting here a moment ago, looking out of the window, I experienced a welcome sense of space and, out of that space, a thought rose up that left me ashamed.
I realised all too clearly that I was being ungrateful . . . I was being shockingly ungrateful.

We are part of the whole . . . not participants in a competition. What of all those people who have helped me immeasurably? What of the many speakers and writers who with perceptive words . . . insightful words . . . words of wisdom . . . have inspired and guided me? And what of online seminars, such as Beyond Awakening, whose speakers gently but firmly put life in perspective? Not to mention organisations, such as Cygnus, who make available the books that feed this inner hunger.
Please forgive me, all of you . . . I owe you not my criticism, but my deepest, humblest gratitude.

Nonetheless, one thing remains true. It is true that words can only take us so far, after that we are on our own. In the meantime we will doubtless go on using words . . . struggling with words . . . inventing words . . . all in an effort to reach that unifying point which is beyond the limitations of language.
"I can't tell you how happy I felt!" said a friend today.
I knew exactly what she meant!

Before I go, let me tell you of someone else who has no difficulty in expressing her feelings! My life is shared with the living proof that words can be totally unnecessary.
By means of a loving heart, perceptive listening, captivating blue eyes, and not the slightest need for modern technology, Chloe forges an instant friendship with everyone she meets . . . and achieves everything she desires!

Could there be a moral there somewhere . . . ?
Thank you, Chloe!