Sunday, March 16, 2014

Good Morning Justin...

Letter to my Son
Sunday, 16 March

A thousand words or more

Good Morning Justin…

The Bradford Pear are in full bloom everywhere.  The tree seems to be in just about every other yard around here so, yes, they are blooming everywhere.  I just noticed it this morning when I took a long walk to Steve’s Garage over on Dale Earnhardt Boulevard.  The funny thing is I took the same walk yesterday (twice!) and I hadn't noticed a single tree in bloom.  Sure, maybe I was preoccupied.  But I had my binoculars with me so it’s not like I wasn’t looking around.  Anyway, the point is these trees bloom all at the same time.  Come March 15th and they all burst full with popcorn blooms.

That’s something I should put on Facebook.  That’s where we all go to share these days, isn’t it?  What is the point of Facebook if it isn’t to share information?  I think that’s about all we do there.  Exchanging information is so a part of who we are that we take it for granted that this is something we would want to do.  Twitter is more of the same, isn’t it?  The forum is a bit different but it’s where you go to find out about what someone did or thought.  Newt Gingrich, a politician, tweeted what kind of sandwich he and his daughter had for lunch one day.  I suppose if you’re sort of a celebrity this is the kind of thing some people who follow you are curious to know.  For some reason I felt it important you know I saw Bradford Pear blooming. 

Can we step outside of ourselves far enough to find amazement in our own human behavior… even if it seems trivial?  Talking among ourselves about what we saw, what we thought, what we felt – are all not trivial matters.  What greater foundation to our success as a species is there than our instinctive desire to communicate with one another?  It starts with our face.  What a window into our thoughts it can be.  It takes effort and some talent to present to the world a poker face when we are charged with emotion.  It’s the money card to what makes for a great actor.  You’ve been revealed as perpetrator of some great unforgivable sin.  Words escape you.  The director wants a close up of your face that will say it all. 

It’s not just the face that has impact in communicating our feelings.  Once again the director feels words are cheap.  You’re being left by the one you love for another.  You’ve made a life together.  Now you are stunned, crushed, as the dearest person to you walks out of your life forever.  You stand mute following with your eyes as your lover drives away.  She looks back in the rear view mirror to see the figure of devastation.  The body language says it all. 

Of course, words are our great accomplishment.  We’ve created a language not simply of nouns and verbs to express our questions and commands.  We have subtle minds and we often require precision in how we speak.  Grammar gives our language a structure to minimize the possibility that we be misunderstood.  Voicing our thoughts with words requires the ear.  But our eyes are so much better suited to receiving information.  Now we make curious squiggles to represent words for the eye to digest.  We are rich in the ability to share information.  We tell stories and they give our recounting of facts great emotional weight.  We explain our thinking one to another.  Sometimes our need for precision is so great that we rely only on numbers to convey our reasoning behind abstract conceptions.  There are times when what we have to convey requires the purity of paint or dynamics of music to convey a finely tuned emotional sense – something that exists only when carefully balanced.  A shift of feeling either way and our expression topples into something crudely hammered, as though with nails that too easily bend to each blow. 

Picture in your mind a morning sun hidden by falling snow.  This is what human words do.


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