What I feel more and more is an incapacity to discuss things of which I long to discuss with anyone amounting to more than breakdown and disconnect — the polar opposite of what I ached to achieve.
Inevitably, sooner rather than later, a discussion of anything challenging digresses into an argument (admittedly often driven by my own inquisitive prodding) of the definition of words — of the meaning of the words which make up any and all discussion. That is not to say non-verbal communication does not exist — however, in verbal communication, words ARE the means through which knowledge, intent, meaning is shared; moreover, words, vocabulary, are the primary means through which we communicate. If the words spoken are not mutually defined, then the words spoken do not communicate; worse yet, they miscommunicate — through mis-match of meaning.
Sadly, what I find over and over is that the words people use (often heavily skewed with volume and bass and treble in escalating tones) are undefined — more so when I ask for clarification. Their definitions either avoided, or ambiguously defined circularly, by using other undefined words and meanings. How does one, can one, communicate in this way?
In my myopic existence, if two people are talking, and they don’t agree on the meaning of a word, much less attempt to have a discussion identified by, or about a word — well then, they may as well be grunting and waving their hands at each other.
Why is it that when I probe — not by the raw intent of challenge, but by the intent of following along in the discussion and refining my own meaning and understanding — why is it that when I probe into someone’s meaning of a word, they respond with anger? Or exasperation?
If you look at a menu at a diner in a foreign country, and you see the special happens to be “fajjaleoa” — don’t you want to know what that is, before deciding whether or not you want to eat it? If you ask the waiter, “excuse me, but what is “fajjaleoa”? and they respond not with information, but exasperation that you don’t know what it is (or don’t respond at all), followed by dismissal of your question as argumentative and hostile — where do you go from there?
Chances are, you order a cup of tea, smile, and mentally note never to return to that restaurant. Is that the approach to take?
If we, as ostensibly inquisitive and thoughtful beings, do not, cannot, define or press ourselves to define the words we use in our own vocabulary — and embrace and strive to refine our words and therefore the expression, understanding of ourselves and our thoughts — then what is any exchange between two people but grunts and hand gestures? If this is the case, then why such shock or exasperation that our feelings or ideas are not understood by others? If we expect others to understand what we mean, hear us and empathize with us — don’t we owe it to them, and even more so, to ourselves — to understand what it is we mean, what it is we say, refine the way we communicate in the same way we expect others to communicate with us?
Nevermind the fajjaleoa. I guess I’ll just have a cup of tea, and hope one day to figure out whether or not fajjaleoa is something I despise, or unexpectedly come to love. Or — more likely in these times — never come across the word again, which would be a shame.