Friday, January 22, 2010

Do we really understand?

"Whereas the truth is that fullness of soul can sometimes overflow in utter vapidity of language, for none of us can ever express the exact measure of his needs or his thoughts or his sorrows; and human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars." - Flaubert

So how many time did you have to read that to make sense of it?

Even before I really understood what he was getting at, the words stirred something in my soul. Which is exactly the point.

Scientifically speaking our brain converts images, emotions and thoughts into chemicals which we must then translate into the limits of our language. Is is even possible that something doesn't get lost in translation? Even more so when another takes your words and they go through the reverse process.

On top of all that, we filter and file things through our own experiences because those are what is stored in the reference catalogs of our minds. We can never experience the exact same thing as someone else. I never saw this more clearly illustrated than when I began interviewing my friends about our trip to Africa. We were all present for the same events, heard the same stories, and worked the same projects but each person told me a different story of their experience. It was a beautiful kaleidescope of life.

Sometimes this lack of understanding can be frustrating. We need each other. We all have a desire to share our true selves with another. We struggle to make them understand and to reveal ourselves to them. We are limited and thus left always with a sense of not being completely known. We tap out the rhythms we know over and over again.

I have found such freedom in knowing I can never be truly understood by another. Freedom to stop trying so hard and freedom from expecting the other person to "get it." I think God designed it that way- only He can ever "get" every part of you. He created it. He knows he put this piece with that one.. oh and that orange thing he connected to the elbow shaped one.

That doesn't mean I should stop trying to put my thoughts and feelings into words. To stop revealing myself. No, it only means I cannot control the interpretation.

As we all keep tapping out our rhythms... He puts it all together as music that really can melt the stars.

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