Words, whether spoken or written, are a strange thing. They help us to communicate with each other, to understand each other, and they can bring about clarity. At the same time, they can make things more complicated, lead to misunderstandings, bring us in our mind and out of contact. After all, language is “only” a technology and is being applied differently by every person.
„Not even two people could truly speak with each other, for such effect you needed quite a bit of luck (…). No, it was lucky that love did not require words; else it would have been full of misunderstandings and foolery.“ That is what Hermann Hesse lets Goldmund think so aptly in his novel „Narziss and Goldmund“.
I do believe that our communication requires spoken (and/or written) language. And I notice that there are so many other possibilities of communication, in regards to which I might so far have given the spoken language an exaggerated value. This may be partly influenced by culture. Now I find myself in a different culture, in which things are not always clearly addressed, if at all. Luckily I received some well-intended advice, telling me that spoken communication “works” differently in New Zealand, and that the German way of directly coming to the point is not all too appreciated, and instead may lead others to close up. I only really get it when I experience it myself. At the same time I notice that I feel discomfort when conflicts are not dissolved to the last bit by talking them through. Maybe that is also important.
At the moment, I experiment with letting go of my concept of having to speak about everything to the last bit. To perceive other forms of communication, of a rather non-verbal character. What I find quite interesting about it is that I started to notice how dog and cat and other living beings communicate nonverbally. Some time long ago us humans also communicated without words. Sure enough this must have led to misunderstandings as well. What I am just aiming at here is to take into account the possibility that such nonverbal communication could be at least equally important as the verbal form – and that we could tend to get lost in a fog of words by focussing on the spoken word.
Jean M. Auel also touches upon that subject in her Ayla books, I recalled just now, and she let’s her protagonist Ayla (who supposedly lived roughly 35,000 years ago) notice with agony that the spoken language is prone to lies whereas the body language is incapable of the same.
I’m coming to think my experiment with nonverbal communication might give me a totally new access to my environment. This could be a holistic approach: enhancing my consciousness for nonverbal communication, thereby getting into a different kind of contact with humans and animals (and plants?). Speaking of plants: It seems to be quite certain now that even trees communicate nonverbally. I recommend Peter Wohlleben’s book “The hidden life of trees“ if you want to learn more about it.
This has turned out to be a post with a few literary hints. I’m looking forward to your thoughts – also if they are nonverbal!