Language And Its Repercussions

I finally dug out my laptop from when I made my last trip to the wasteland.  I didn’t have any internet access there, so I didn’t post any blog entries.  But I did have a text file of ideas and this is one.

So, this trip.  It’s made me a little more sensitive to language in a couple of ways.  The first way is what I perceive as the overuse of the phrase, “I’m sorry.”

When I have to tell someone why I’m visiting, I have a choice of what to say, but no matter where I start, questions will always reveal the root cause.  Like, “I’m up visiting my mom.  Oh, she’s doing ok.  No, she’s in a nursing home home.  Yeah, she had a stroke.”  And at some point, “I’m sorry” will come out.  And that irks me, only because I view that phrase as an apology, not as sympathy.  And people may not understand that I wouldn’t say that phrase in sympathy, either.  I would say something like “That’s too bad.”  Because I’m not sorry.  I didn’t have any involvement in the process.

Similarly, but not, my GF and I are apart for this trip.  And because of the GF’s unreal schedule with work and school, we don’t see each other very often anyway.  And we had to work out a difference the other night in regard to expressing how we felt about this.  She would tell me, “I miss you” and I wouldn’t really return the sentiment.  Most times, I would say something more positive, like “we’ll see each other soon.”  So the returned sentiment was that I didn’t miss her.  It’s only been recently that I’ve understood this behavior.

I didn’t get why this was a big deal because in my head, I never focused on the lack of the present, I focused on the happiness of the future.  I never missed her, because I was always happy that we would see each other soon.  It’s a pretty different viewpoint.  But the issue was, I was not communicating that clearly enough.  By being reassuring and saying, “we’ll get to see each other this Friday”, I was not really saying I cared.  It was only addressing her problems.  A more relative and truer way to express the same thing would be to say, “I can’t wait until I see you Friday.”  That statement makes clear a couple of things: I am not sad about the present; I am excited about the future, and she is the object of my excitement.

Language is a tricky thing.  You have to say what you mean and sometimes you have to say more than what you mean.

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