whispering (not so) sweet nothings

Words are vehicles for communication but they don’t always go by their actual meanings. If I say, Hey, nice shirt! by intonation I could mean: I like it, I hate it, I’m teasing, I’m ridiculing, I’m shaming, I’m flirting. When someone pronounces, “let’s do lunch” we know if it’s authentic or not. While traveling—with very little effort—you can comprehend what people intend without being fluent. Tone, decibels, facial movements and body stance communicate far more.

Babies and children understand, too. Tara attended a small school in San Francisco with kids from all over the world. The birth languages didn’t matter since words weren’t important for these 5-year-olds to play and learn.

Even though I romp throughout the domain of written words, sometimes they’re bargain-basement items when vocalized. If “Joe” says something callous and is called out, he often says, “I’m joking,” when we know he wasn’t. When a child asks mom if she’s sad (when she is) and is told, “No, just tired,” this teaches kids—who look to us to inform them correctly about the world, inwardly and outwardly—to doubt what they sense in favor of what someone they trust tells them. See: wanting for want.

I live in a culture where most people’s word means very little. So, why am I surprised when people want to convince me with words what their actions don’t back up? Why do they push for my “approval assurance” for something I know is patently untrue? See: “do you believe what you’re sayin’? yeah right now, but not that often.”

Supporting someone demonstrates you care about what they do and you attempt to show up in actions as well as in words. What support is not: saying you’re “there for them” but in fact not being so. It’s not giving someone what you want to give them but providing them with what they want and sometimes when it’s not convenient for you.

If I ask for a glass of water and I’m given a hammer, don’t expect me to be thankful. It’s a non sequitur. How does your psuedo-intention trump my need? And if I request a ride on Friday but you volunteer for the second Tuesday of next week, it’s not helpful and I won’t give you points for offering something I can’t use.

My ex mother-in-law once gave her hirsute son a bottle of aftershave for xmas, then huffed,”Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” after he logically and kindly wondered at the efficacy of her “present.” Shouldn’t the gift be more about the receiver, not the giver?

Commonly, I call a company’s “support line” and am auto-told “all representatives are busy helping other customers.” Yeah, right, that huge workforce of one. Their faux-care is insulting. Hire a real staff and then maybe I’ll believe that I’m a “valued customer” and not hang up.

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