Sunday, March 05, 2006

"What we've got here is... failure to communicate."

I love movie quotes. That one's from Cool Hand Luke.

How about this one from Monty Python and the Holy Grail:
"Oh, but you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you."

Oh, sorry... [ahem]... I actually started this post with the intention of discussing the notion of finding you're unable to communicate something effectively. I'm not sure what made me think of it, but there have been a few times in the years Rick & I have been married, particularly the years when we were paid ministerial staff at a church, when we would encounter people who seemed completely reasonable and normal, and yet little by little you realized that there was something awry in their ability to perceive life events in a normal fashion. It was as if you were speaking a different language, or that the words you were speaking were being interpreted in a way you couldn't possibly have foreseen. A couple of those people I eventually came to realize were likely suffering from undiagnosed psychiatric disorders; their entire lives were an ongoing pattern of misinterpretation and illogical behaviors. One fellow, we discovered, had constructed an entire fabrication about his life, down to odd details that you wouldn't think someone would invent. He disappeared before we could help him get some help (also typical of most of these types of people we encountered -- they played out their spiel until people began to figure them out, then they moved on to other people and places that they hadn't used-up yet). None of them wanted to "get better" or actually face the reality of their situation, preferring the fantasy instead.

I think that, at its core, honesty about oneself is a crucial factor missing from these folks. I think that in order to grow and become who we're supposed to be, we have to be able to accurately view who we already are. By accurate, I don't mean malicious... but we do, I believe, have to drop the emotionally-charged and judgmental nature of terminology. For example, "fat." I'm fat. It's okay. It's just a description of what I look like. It is not a death sentence, and it isn't a cut-down. It just is. The sky is blue, the grass is green. Just descriptive terms, nothing more.

Little kids say that kind of stuff all the time: "Mommy, that fat lady was nice." Instead of agreeing and talking about how nice she was, we recoil in horror at the fact that our child said the "f" word (FAT!!!) and we shush them. We might later explain to a child that some people feel bad about themselves and that there are some words that people don't like to hear about themselves (fat, old, gray-haired, etc.), so we don't say them.

I leave you with the following, another Monty Python quote:
Sir Bedevere: What makes you think she's a witch?
Peasant 3: Well, she turned me into a newt.
Sir Bedevere: A newt?
Peasant 3: ...I got better.

No comments: