In Conversation ©Suzanne LaGrande, 2020

What We Say and What We Mean

Make a hospitable place to listen and also to be understood

Meaning is in the words, but people stop there. They think words contain the meaning. But the meaning flows through the shapes, is carried on the sounds the shapes make on the breath, when put to music and blended with the other sounds and the silence that surround and permeate the meaning.

When I started to talk to trees I had to wait a long time to hear what they were saying to me. They spoke to me, but I was not attuned to hear them. I had learned to ignore what my body knew and felt. My words and thoughts — the important things I intended to do, and did with great effort, and frustration — demanded so much of my attention. I could not hear the language of those who spoke to my body through theirs.

An Open Place of Wanting

I had to imagine their responses or to imagine I could hear their voices and what they might say in order to create a way of listening inside of myself that could allow other voices to enter.

With my imagination I had to make a place within myself that was hospitable, open to and inviting of other voices to visit, to speak, to address me. To hear one has to make an open place of wanting and hold it open for whatever stranger shows up with a message to come inside and get warm.

Body language is the language of energy, the language of the unseen and with subtlety, deeply felt. Body language is the language of emotions, a kind of empathy we extend past our bodies into the minds and being of another — we occupy some of their space and they some of ours and in this realm of emotions all is porous.

There’s the way something feels, the way that music hits you in the gut, sends blood to your genitals and wakes you up or carries you so far into the ether that you leave your body and for a time are in that realm of all and in between.

The language of gesture, too, is the language of prayer. It is the voice of the body unfettered and able to speak as it has been wanting to. It speaks not through words but something deeper — shapes and movements in space — its language is symbolic, abstract and embodied all at once. It is the original multidimensional language.

Borders of sense

Everything in the universe speaks and sings to us in every way it knows how. The problem is that slowly we have closed down sense after sense, diverted the knowledge brought to us into hungers for things that could not fulfill us.
The problem is that the borders between worlds have been so militarized and
traumatized that even if we look across to the other side of the divide we cannot see anything clearly through our fears about what we might find were we to look with eyes truly open.

We are born with senses blunted, carrying with us the traumas of our ancestors. Those around us mostly have their senses turned off, through no fault of their own. We are like emotional bumper cars, running blindly, headlong into each other’s pain, as if this was the set-up to an elaborate game where everyone’s wounds got regularly poked so that they would never ever have a chance to heal.

We are born into conversation

But we are born too, with the desire to speak, to breathe, to express, to live, and this brings us to language and the desire for connection. Though our senses may not be turned on, there is within us something that, if we follow, will turn on every sense, little by little, from the inside. And that is what we love.

What lights us up, what emboldens and strengthens. What is mischievous and makes us laugh. What is sad and makes us yearn and hope. What is unbearable that we run from and build elaborate house after house, each one bigger than the last so as to avoid the monster that always finds us, that always knows the way around our indestructible defenses.

We desire to love, to speak, to know, to express and this is what gives us language. But meaning is so much more, for it is found in the extent to which we are able to hear as well as express, it is in the music that is created when one understands some of what is being said and can continue the conversation. It is in the dance of emotion and movement and musical vibrations of sound and voice, word and gesture. It is the I that is the we, the we that is the one, the one that is the all.

Mellifluous, splendid, mystical, mysterious, delirious, curious, obtuse and loose, soothing and truthing, moody and modest, bawdy and honest.

The prayer, the mover and the moved, the sound and the sense, the sensuous indwelling of a thought dissipating, carried by the wind to all who are have opened their ears, with their hearts, to hear.



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