Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Perception

     Writing has always been an outlet for me.  A way of expressing myself that gave me the option to go back and re-read my words... to learn from them, change them, or just delete them.  I've learned (painfully) that like spoken words, sometimes you can't take back the written word... so I have gotten into the habit of writing some blogs a day or five ahead of time, then reading, re-reading, editing, and sometimes deleting them before they are seen by anyone else.

     Spoken words can cut deeper than any knife, leaving a scar that sometimes never heals.  The children's rhyme "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." wasn't true.  Broken bones heal, cuts heal.  They may leave scars, but with time, those even fade.

     But words spoken in anger... words spoken to hurt someone... those seem to find a place in our minds where they anchor like coral, reaching and growing until they have become memories that make us like islands. Isolated in the sea of life, buffeted by the waves of emotion, sometimes breaking under the storms.
Coral Island

     Written words can be just as damaging.  Perhaps not spoken aloud, but once read they too become little bits of coral that anchor and grow.  The problem with both is that they are subject to interpretation and perception.

     "An English professor wrote the words, "Woman without her man is nothing" on a blackboard and directed the students to punctuate it correctly.
     The men wrote: "Woman, without her man, is nothing."
     The women wrote: "Woman: Without her, man is nothing."

     The transition between what it said or what is written can change between the time it is heard or the time it is read.  Not only will it change for whom it was intended, but it can change again a million times over as others hear it repeated or read the words.  It has started wars, ended relationships, and changed lives.

     There is no solution for this dilemma between intent and perception except to stop speaking or stop writing.  We can stop listening or stop reading.  But even then our silence can be perceived differently.  Some may perceive it as agreement, others as disagreement, when all that was intended was to stop hurting... and being hurt.

1 comment:

  1. That's all so true!! I guess the best we can do is our best.
    There'll always be times when people see something in a way that was never intended, and we just have to hope that by building a relationship with them that speaks of our character, misunderstandings can be resolved. Hopefully without bloodshed!

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