some thoughts on the differences between what we think we're saying and what other people actually hear. I'm actually posting this for an old college friend I was talking with recently . . . by way of making a point, I referenced a poem I'd written in college . . . she'd read it then, but of course didn't have it now. The poem, in both versions, is titled "After Jeremy's Wedding." Note: I judge the first version to be an utter failure, and the second mostly a failure. Taken together, they were an interesting learning experience for me though . . . the only reason I'm posting the thing is to give context to what I want to say about it afterwards. :P (Note: these had to be scanned in and posted as images because Blogger wouldn't handle the formatting. Click on the image to get a larger, readable, version.)
The story is this. When my brother married, my parents moved his twin bed (black iron) to my room and my double bed (white wood) to his room, which had become, of course, the spare room. My grey cat, Chester, didn't like it. And the white cat we had when I was little, Kitty-kitty, figures in there too.
Now here's the thing. When I wrote that first version of the poem, I thought I was saying something. I thought I was communicating something. Turns out the only thing I was communicating was confusion. I over-reacted against my natural tendency to run on by trying to clean the idea down to the bare bone . . . and ended up with bone powder. Or something. When I expanded on the idea for the second version, I felt like I was explaining the idea in excruciating and over-obvious detail. Frankly, I felt exposed. But in retrospect, the second version isn't all that clear either. It's possible at least to get an idea of what's going on, but I did not succed in loading in the paralells, the emotion and the history that I was shooting for.
But I learned (let's not get too obvious here) that in order to say something, you have to actually say it. What a startling insight! I realized the degree to which I think that I'm saying something, but what actually comes from my mouth or fingers is only decipherable within the massive amount of context that's rattling around in my skull. Often what I end up speaking is some sort of code . . . or something that seems obvious to me . . . and I forget all the internal conversation with myself that made that conclusion meaningful . . .
Taken a step further, I wonder how often we blame each other for not listening or not being interested, when the real problem is that we're not actually communicating what we think we are.