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  • Writer's pictureEsther Brownwood

Miss Communication

communication

noun

com·​mu·​ni·​ca·​tion kə-ˌmyü-nə-ˈkā-shən 

1

a: a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior

the function of pheromones in insect communication

also : exchange of information

b: personal rapport

a lack of communication between old and young persons

2

a: information communicated : information transmitted or conveyed

b: a verbal or written message

The captain received an important communication.

3

communications plural in form but singular or plural in construction

a: a technique for expressing ideas effectively (as in speech)

b: the technology of the transmission of information (as by print or telecommunication)

5

: an act or instance of transmitting

the communication of disease

6

anatomy : a connection between bodily parts

Surprisingly little is known about the communication between the alveolar and terminal bronchiolar surfaces …— Richard C. Boucher


Dear Friend, 

How are you? 


It is February, which means that the words I say don’t seem to be making sense. Around this time of year, poetry that even I don’t understand seems to be my preferred form of communication. 

I’m not sure why that is, but it has led me to think about communication a lot recently. 


During a conversation with my sister, I said the words: “I understand you completely, yet I don’t understand you at all.” 


Saying that sentence gave me an “A-ha” moment. One in which I could finally put into words what I had been experiencing. 


I believe we creatures of this planet are all trying to make sense of the feelings inside of us. Through our words, our art, and our daily actions, we try to convey the jumble that we feel within, to various degrees of success. 


Words can be a great tool for this! But many times, I find myself saying things, even when I don’t know how to express what I’m feeling. 


I reach around for words that I believe might convey what I want to say, as if trying on clothes. Sometimes they fit better than I ever expected, and I have the perfect prom dress moment. And sometimes, what I say comes out all wrong and makes me feel even worse for having tried. Sometimes there’s that unexpected phenomenon where you don’t know what you mean by saying something, yet hearing it come out of your mouth makes it make perfect sense! 


Why is it that it can be so difficult to say what you wanna say? 


Part of the problem is that we all live unique experiences that shape our feelings. Nobody has gone through exactly what you’ve gone through or felt exactly how you feel. Attempting to express something that has only been lived by you can feel pointless at times. 


Let’s take a basic emotion like happiness. When I tell you a story of watching big flocks of birds fly above me across the blue sky, I might use that word. However, if you were to say it, you might use words like content, calming, etc. We may be speaking of the same thing, the same feeling, the same energy, yet you might use completely different language to express it. Hence the: I understand you completely and not at all. This could also be seen as: I understand the underlying feeling, but I would use different words to describe it. - I experience it differently.

I had an interesting conversation the other day about the definitions of the words “boredom” and “rest.” It is fascinating to me that though there are supposed “universal” meanings to words, the feelings they carry with them are different to me and you.For me, rest involves relaxation, but to the person I was talking to, it mostly means sleep. For me, boredom is waiting at the doctor’s office; for them, it’s the feeling of not wanting to do anything.


How can it be that we use the very same words, but they don’t mean the same things to us? 


These are some of the things I’ve been questioning within myself and my relationships. How does one stop Miss Communication from winning the pageant and bringing Miss Understanding with her? 


Sometimes I write poems but have no idea what they mean. Words pop into my head, and I grab them, even if they seem out of place or odd. When I look back at the finished product, I can usually feel a tangible emotion. But many times I had no idea that’s what I was expressing when I started it. 


This is also a reason that communication can get messy. Often, we don’t even know what we want to convey, so how could another understand? 


They may never understand, heck, you may never understand yourself either. 


Still, I urge you to keep circling. Keep going back. Let yourself lead the dance between known and unknown. You might spin your partner into the light, into the realm of understanding. At first, you’ll get to see her, and then the rest of the world may catch a glimpse too. 


It is also possible that no matter how much you circle, you’ll never be able to grasp what it is you’re seeking. That comes with its own lesson, no doubt. 


For example, I recognize that I am not always understandable in these writings. Yet, all I can do is try to convey something from nothing. I keep chasing a ball of energetic yarn just in case I can grab one end and pull it into our universe for you to see too. 


Do you understand me? Not at all? Yes and no simultaneously? Me too! 


So, this month, I wish you good luck in dealing with Miss Communication. I know she can be finicky, but when she drops the title and becomes real communication, there ain’t nothing like her! 


I love you. 

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