Among things we as humans do, such as move, produce, preserve, and copulate, there is one more thing that we can do really well, and yet often fail at. It’s communicating.
Funny enough, in the world of today where communicating is recognized as vital, and with many different ways of communicating are invented, starting with education of languages and lectures on body language, and ending with phones, faxes, and whatever else they’ve invented lately that I’ve missed, we fail to communicate so much.
And that’s amazing, considering that we communicate all the time. When I write this, you read it, so I’ve communicated to you what I think and feel, and whether you agreed or disagreed with it, you can’t help but receive the information that I’ve shared. When you stand in front of me and talk, I hear you, but I also read your face expressing how you feel about what you’re saying, and I can also pay attention to your hands and the rest of your body reacting to what is being said or what you really thought. We share that information and most of us are inherently good at it.
And yet, so often we communicate and not pay attention to what was communicated to us. So often we listen, but we don’t hear. And so often we don’t even try to listen, just pass by, thinking something else is important. I am guilty of that. I can be so lost in thoughts that I am lost for words when they need to be said. Whether it is to say that I agree, or to say I’m sorry, or to provide an insight, often I just seem to think there are more important things to pay attention to right at that moment, and I ignore others. Or sometimes I am so lost in my thoughts that I miss or misinterpret what’s being said and make wrong judgements of it and come to negative and upsetting conclusions.
I read a story by Chuck Palaniuk, the author of Fight Club, where he wrote that you only get people’s attention when you disclose that you are diagnosed with or dying from some incurable disease. That’s when people start really paying attention to what you’re saying and how you are feeling.
It is at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that we really listen to others. We hear their stories, we think about how it relates to us, we express empathy with our nods and smiles, and after the meeting we talk, we discuss, and often go somewhere to talk about it some more. It is a system that works well for decades. It is not unique though, because people do that on a regular basis. People talk, people solve problems by discussing it. Only in AA meeting we discuss something that, if left unspoken, may literally destroy person’s life. That’s why we make sure we give a word to a newcomer, even if they don’t feel like talking in front of strangers.
The fact that this fellowship exists is a great thing. Over a decade ago it saved my life, just like for the last 80 years it was saving lives of thousands. But I can’t help but wonder if there could be less reasons for AA’s existence if we, the humans in general, could originally communicate better.
What if we could talk without being hurtful so that we wouldn’t cause people to look for a potentially dangerous outlet, such as drugs and alcohol? What if we didn’t produce so much alcohol that we needed to advertise it so rampantly? Remember, advertising is communication too, just as a movie you watched, or a book you read, only TV or Internet ads provide short ideas faster and with a shock value that successfully affects your mental faculties, promising you desires to be fulfilled. A powerful language to present ideas, and dangerous at that.
Could we advertise more ideas of hope and kindness than what to buy, where, for how much, and where it is less expensive and move convenient? Would we improve our lives with more products… or with more hope and understanding that we should care for others? So often I realize that it is not what we say to others, but how we say it that has more lasting effect, negative and positive.
Unfortunately, I don’t know if these questions can be answered. Thus, I focus on what’s at hand and stay sober and go to my AA home group meetings. Communication is power, and AA is based on communication. Without, it AA won’t work. We speak, we listen, we share, we read recovery books, and when we pray, it is communication to, isn’t it?
So now that we are afflicted, since the failures of communication already happened to plague us, let’s try to connect better. Maybe let’s do a better effort to listen to those that need to speak, with our loved ones (especially with them, because we may think we had a perfect connection, but we’re so often take it for granted), with our friends, with strangers, on a bus, on a street, in a group, even if we have no time, or desire to do so. Somebody’s life and sanity may depend on it.
I guess, I have to start with myself. Writing this is only the first step of dealing with it.
image copied from https://www.andertoons.com/speaking/cartoon/7151/know-youre-new-but-its-hear-ye-hear-ye-not-listen-up-people thanks.