All my life, I’ve struggled with the spoken word. Anytime I engage in conversation, I’ve got a litany of words streaming through my head, Matrix-like, and I must sort through them in order to ensure what I’m about to say lends proper weight, meaning, gravitas. And it’s funny, because I’ve discovered most folks don’t care if I do, but I can’t alter who I am at whim. Meanwhile, I cringe as others begin drifting away, looking furtively from side to side as though they want to be anywhere but inside of this suddenly-far-too-complex interaction.
While “making conversation” might be easy for some, consider the bane of a thesaurus-like brain. But if you really can’t or don’t want to stretch your imagination too far just now, simply consider the paradox that is the English language. (This should be easy for those of you for whom English is your second language.) Although I have passing knowledge of French and Spanish, I am no expert. But I’d like to believe there are languages out there that make it easier to say what one means and thus to mean what one says. In my opinion, ours can be a facile tongue only if we do not seek to use it too creatively.
Take for instance the greeting, How are you? Really, and I’ve found this to be disappointing but true, most folks don’t want to know how I am. Instead they simply desire the briefest of intercourse, they want mirrored back to them that all is well in their world. Thus and so I have discovered that the proper answer is simply Great! or Fine! or Fabulous! or if I haven’t the stomach for it, I can always get away with a simple Okay. (period. or dot-dot-dot.) More than the most cursory reply seems to hold little interest, and I can’t bear the dismissive looks anyway. The word pleasantries does not really fit and yet its meaning does: inconsequential banter. Though I don’t find it pleasant in the least, do forgive my honesty. I find it banal and shallow. Judgments, I know, which you’ll discover more about in just a minute, if you’re still with me.
Consider the word discriminate. I do not discriminate based on color, gender, sexual proclivity or religious viewpoint. But I do discriminate when it comes to the quality of an interaction. If I didn’t, I’d ramble on to a street-dwelling drug addict about my future plans for education or my mother’s bad knees. If I did not discriminate, I might find myself in a dangerous situation. Or I might choose eggs when I really wish I would have eaten the chicken instead. (Extrapolate from that statement what you will, and you will begin to understand how my suffering mind works.) All this before I open my mouth.
Now let’s take the word judgment. While I strive not to judge others based on the above non-discriminatory qualities, if I do not judge anything about them or about myself, if I fail to have opinions about human behavior or in regards to various life situations, I’d never be able to write. Anything. At all. It’s simply the way I’m wired.