Thursday, May 14, 2009

human fingerprints

Unshared thoughts are like lost embers floating up from the chimney flue when they're not anchored to spoken language. If we consider the words we choose and the feelings we use to express them, we quickly learn that language has the capacity to capture a fraction of what we mean. As much as it adds lustre to a perambulation of the unspoken idea finally freed, language is also held within a mystery. We can't ever cover all that we want to communicate. And, more often than not, when we do? It's misinterpreted.
Why do some people think you can read their minds? Why do some people think they can read your mind? Or even more annoying, why do they think they have the right to even attempt it?
I may seem like an open book in this venue, but I'm not as open as I appear. Like you, there are many more facets of me than you will never know.... heck, there are some of mine I havent even met yet. Truth be told there are only a couple of people on this planet who I may be emotionally comfortable enough to completely strip down to place inside me where I am that vulnerable. That type of "safe" is a very complicated place to reach.
We have a tendancy to try to sum someone up with a few descriptive sentences don't we? And for most people, that's just about enough for them. They don't want to go any deeper than that. Most descriptions are really only a reflection of themselves....of what they value, of what they like and dont like. They are judgement statements decorated with adjectives, whose definitions have a beginning and an end. In fact, I believe that most of these statements float in the cosmos of an illusion created by perceptions rather than in any essence of clarity.

Ask someone to describe you. What words would they choose??
I'm guessing if I asked 5 different people in my life how they would describe me, there would most likely be common threads....some of which may be correct. Some may be completely off the charts simply because of the situation or the events surrounding our encounters.
Believe it or not, there are some out there who think I'm simply a moody complicated opionionated blowhard! Can you believe that??? There are some who think I'm a bleeding heart pushover whose lead by her spilling out emotions. Can you believe that??? Then, there are some who would put money on their belief that I'm just a dramatic wingnut who can't get her life in order. Can you believe that???? Ok, here's one...... a threat. I'm a threatening overbearing shit disturber. Now, that's very difficult to swallow isn't it? :) Wait a minute! I think there may be one or two who see a few angelic tendancies in me, but how can that be? Then, there are some who think I'm nice. hmmmm..........very Canadian, I am.
Do I care? Of course I care. But, there's probably not a damn thing I can do about it.....people form their opinions on impressions they make in a slice of an instant. weird. Interpretations are simply that.....owned by the one who formed them.
We are all multi-layered. I may seem to be an open book, but there are several chapters I have yet to reveal. There are several chapters I have yet to discover. I may have all of the above characteristics, but slice me another way and you'll see I am more like you than you may be willing to admit..... or I may be willing to admit.

Humans have much in common.....we all have the same goods inside us, but we are far from cookie cutter replicas or one another. Our sameness.....the capacity to feel the same feelings, to yearn for the same dreams etc is what allows us to connect. Our differences is where we either clash or appreciate each other's unique gifts. My fingerprints are etched with my own design as are yours. And the only way I have to clarify who I am is through my language.......

oh, wait a minute..........
I could show you who I am too. Action without words? Now that's a thought. Sitting together in a comfortable stream of silence? Maybe that's the ideal place to delve deeper into the understanding of our unique human fingerprints. Maybe we rely too heavily on choosing the right words, on trying to find a common language........on trying NOT to be perceived the wrong way.........on trying to project an impression we may think is suitable, acceptable, welcoming....or even trying to be outrageously memorable?
Sitting together in silence strips away pretence and somehow levels any sort of power imbalance. Though it offers up enormous room for interpretations and second guessing as to what the other is thinking etc, eventually if both people are authentically genuine and honest in their physical expressions ...... comfort will be felt in the softening of the holy space between.
As John O'Donahue so eloquently captured in his writing, an unspoken essence between two friends is also present, no matter what the distance is. He referred to it as the holiness of Spirit. It makes me wonder if this Spirit's language can express our truth far better than we humans ever can?

My second posting on Carmi's thematic photography theme...."human." Check out more at Written Inc.


momemts in time said...

I am away for the weekend but I'd like to come back to this in more depth ~ there is a book there...
'What we leave behind' and 'Traces'are too eassily missed in a rushing society.

Gilly said...

Body language is often more eloquent than words. What we say can be totally negated by the way we move, our expressions, eyes, even how we move our legs (sitting down, I mean!)

Photographs are just a quick slice across a life. They can't give the whole of a beaming smile, the aggressive stance.

If there's one thing that drives me mad its womeone saying "I know just what you are thinking". No you don't. Sometimes I don't.

A very thoughtful and penetrating post.

Awareness said...

Moments...look forward to your now thinking about the concept of what it is we leave behind.... thanks.

Gilly....You make such good points here...non verbal language is 90% of our communication package. I always find it interesting when I'm counselling to hear what a person is expressing but see something very different. the cues we express in our body language, tone of voice, intonation, and surrounding energy field are plentiful thats for sure.

PastorMac's Ann said...

Wonderful post for Carmi's "human" challenge. Your first paragraph really grabbed me.

Anonymous said...

Just dropped by to say hello you dissappeared so abruptly i thought there may be something wrong, illness, children, life, glad to see your doing ok... Abbey

Awareness said...

Hey Abbey.. :) I've been fighting the good fight...! Good to see you. I'm in a new job albeit temporarily. My job was cut afterall! Good to get out of that toxic place. Am hoping to land one at the college and will know soon. I eliminated the followers on my dashboard because it was driving me crazy everytime i opened it up.

hope you're well.


momemts in time said...

Sorry it has taken so long to come back on what we leave behind…

1. Achievements

Everyone makes an imprint on this world, far more than their fingerprint or DNA. Whether it is in the children we have; our relationships; our academic achievements; successes in our career; sporting, musical artistic or theatrical prowess; the dedication to others and works for charities we all leave something. However, it is only the ‘famous’ who have this officially recognised, through honours, books, blue plaques on their homes, or structures and roads named after them, but even here they are often forgotten… Yet the couple who make a great garden in their home that was appreciated by future owners, the artist who only sells a few watercolours that were lovingly bought and cherished, or the person who campaigned for a safer road crossing leave as much as Isambard Brunell with his construction of ships and bridges, Turner with his paintings or Jane Austen with her writing. Perhaps this is because these are all physical remembrances and the thing has become more important than the person.

2. Fond memories

Maybe more important are those things that people who love us remember us by; the way we did something, the smile, look or reaction, phrases we used, a touch or movement, or places we went with them. These become poignant since they were part of us. The plaques on benches telling us that this was ‘her’ favourite place that she came to each day or the inscription in a card or book ‘he’ gave to us on a birthday tell us far more than their ‘achievements’.

3. Someone’s space ~ Loss

We also see memories in the person who does not want anyone to sit ‘there’ because it was ‘her’ seat; however she is no longer alive except in memories, or who tells us that ‘he’ would not have liked that (whatever that may be) and must be turning in his grave.

4. Uncovering what is left behind ~ Traces

I find it fascinating in the archaeology programmes that it is often the rubbish that had been thrown away that tells the experts more about the people who lived there than the structures they inhabited. What would a future archaeologist say when they uncovered our ‘lives’, either as individuals or as a society? I don’t think of time capsules in this context since they will contain only those items that we want to be remembered for.

5. Found Traces

In recent years there has been a real interest in ‘found photographs’. The images either of or taken by someone we do not know. Sometimes we may know or be able to unravel the answers to the ‘who’, ‘why’, ‘where’ and ‘when’.

I remember seeing some found images that were made into a book. Taken in Germany in the 1930s, they revealed a small hotel, a formal dinning room, place settings, menus and some guests. The hotel did not survive the war and one could only wonder about those whose traces had been left behind in the images.

I suppose that this is all part of the 'What is the story behind the image, person, item?' ...