Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Meaning of language

Traveling in parts of the world where I don't speak the language, I feel my internal pendulum swing. Seeking meaning in gestures and eye contact can switch quickly to cutting off and retracting the tendrils of communication. Here as with so much of being human, there is a struggle to feel at peace with what is so. Can we be content with silent company? Can we afford to step beyond comfort to reach another?

I listen for tone of voice,watch the faces as people speak to each other in a cafe, observe the expressions of people on the metro. Who we think we are and how we appear are seemingly separate identities. A grim visage, a lightly held shoulder structure, eyes that don't meet those of strangers, portray the being but not the personality. Some of the attributes are those of systemic cultural training. I am closely watching my own tendencies to create meaning in the newness and obscurity of language here.

How many words I use in my own language and how few in another! How beautiful is the precision of meaning when the idea is clear. Joyful, kind, tired and curious, I must use all the other means as my words fail to find that precision in a language I do not speak.

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