Contemplating her husband's grave
A young family friend was
tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. Many of his friends had put
together a selection of articles and remembrances of his life which were
featured in a lady chapel within the local parish church where the
funeral was to be held.
I was there in that chapel reading through these remembrances when I saw his parents in the distance, in discussion with the priest about the order of the funeral service to be held the following day.
Although I knew their son as a friend of one of my grown up children and he had visited our family home a number of times, I had not met his parents. However, as I was there with my child who had been their son’s friend, it seemed appropriate to greet them.
As we approached them, I was lost for words, as we reached them we hugged them and held them in our arms.
On another occasion, I received an unexpected message that a former business associate of mine whom I hadn’t seen for about 15 years was dying of cancer.
This man had been a good friend and a significant mentor in my business career but we had had a major dispute in the past which was why we had lost contact.
As I sat beside his bed, I was again lost for words.
He looked at me and reached out his hand and I held it for about 5 minutes and we sat in silence.
Reflecting on these experiences I realised that:
The Limitations Of Language
A lot of what causes us to identify with this image that we have of ourselves, and the world around us, is built into our language.
Notice that in our language, every sentence has a verb, an action of some sort, and a noun that does the action. But is this really the way it is?
So if there are no separate things, how can we have a noun, a separate thing, doing something?
Isn’t this, too, just a social convention, but one that doesn’t describe reality accurately?
The structure of our language just reinforces that our concept of what is real (that there are separate things, that acts on other separate things) is real, when it isn’t.
Your image of yourself is deficient. It has to be. It’s just a map, an image, a concept you have of "you". It’s the menu, but you are the meal itself.
You really are all the connections, all the processes of the universe, a centre of awareness smack in the middle of everything, and that everything is you.
Your mental image of yourself, your ego, your map of reality, keeps you from directly seeing and feeling who you are.
Your image of you is no more you than an idol is God.
The Double Bind Of Language And Speech
The concepts we employ, the categorizations we apply and the words we choose and use to articulate a direct experience put us in a double bind, and it is this:
For all that we gain by being able to speak about an experience we lose a greater amount of the full meaning of that experience by speaking it.
There Is Always A Context, And Framing, In Our Use Of Words
To illustrate and personalize this right now, the words that I am writing to you here in this article - and that I can hear in my head as I type this - have a meaning to me that is created and shaped by my inner map of reality.
However you, as you read this will be receiving, filtering and interpreting these words with your inner map of reality.
What I mean to say and what you hear may not be the same thing!
We Confuse Being Informed About With Having Experience Of
Our educated obsession with words ensures we confuse being informed about with having experience of.
spend so much time devouring words and images like hungry beasts and
spewing out our own torrents of words and images in our blogs, (on
websites such as this !) and on social media, that we confuse our
thoughts and our emotional associations with the experience of these
The direct experience of eating tasty food – the unconditional love of a parent or child – the energy and abandonment of a good sexual experience - cannot be confused with our inner representations of them or the words and images we may use to attempt to describe these powerful experiences.
Imagine how many words you would need to describe the taste of freshly ground coffee to someone who has no experience of coffee. How different it is to brew them a cup and letting them taste it for themselves.
The difference between the “world as-it-is” with the “world as-it-is-thought-about” and spoken about, is vast.
Words Have Power Because Of The Results They Create In Your And Others' Life Experiences
In The Power of Framing we talked about the causal link between inner states and external events:
"We are energetic beings. The inner associations that we make and the meanings that we ascribe to those associations are all energy based.
By changing the words we use to reframe an experience we change the underlying energetic state.
This change in energetic state changes the results that we create.”
Your self talk affects how you feel, your conversations with others affects how they feel.
Your words have the power to hurt or to heal.
If you can't think of the right thing to say, say nothing.
Return from "Lost For Words" to: Walking The Talk