I often wish that we humans had no words. No ability to speak, or write. For I often think that the world would be a better place, if not for the presence of words.
True enough, words can lift up, bless, and inspire. There is much good that can be said of words. But how often do words deceive. How often do they hurt. How often are they misheard, misperceived, and misunderstood. Does the good outweigh the bad? Or is the bad so repellent, that it might be better just to not have either? To forgo all the good, in order to be rid of all the bad too.
I often wish that we might communicate by telepathy. I wish that, not words, but understandings, could be transmitted — nay, implanted — directly into the mind of our fellow. Clear. Complete. Nothing added. Nothing withheld. Perfect understanding. Perfect knowing.
Some years ago, I worked in the city nearest my home. I became pleasantly accustomed to spending my lunch break sitting on a lonely, grassy hilltop, in a parkland overlooking the Pacific Ocean. At times, serendipitously, others would come, and sit quietly nearby. Eating. Reading. Dozing in the sunshine. Playing with children, or a family pet. Rarely would any words pass between us. Only smiles. And nods of knowing.
I was inspired by these experiences, and sought to establish a Meetup social group to encourage this. I called it “Alone Together”.
The idea was simply to set a regular time, and picturesque place, where attendees could come and sit, silently. Alone, and yet, Together. For as long, or as little, as each one wished. The only rule: no words. No communication, spoken, or written. Alas, I lost enthusiasm for this idea — perhaps, in hindsight, somewhat precipitately — when initial inquirers quickly proved to be motivated only by the most superficial — that is to say, physically romantic — of intentions.
A week or three ago, I met a lovely older lady at my present favourite lakeside haven of solitude and tranquillity. As I sat quietly on the grass watching the Whistling Kites nesting above, I heard the sound of a vehicle approaching over the field behind. Through the passenger side window, “Helen” began speaking with me about our feathered companions. Evidently she had observed that I was photographing them. Joy in this activity is a pleasure we share in common. I imagine this explains why a little old lady would approach a strange leathered man, in an isolated rural location, when his ape-hangered iron steed scowling darkly nearby might otherwise suggest a risk of his being a “bad ass biker”.
Although I did enjoy meeting and conversing with Helen, an observation has since occurred to me. The “conversing” part was entirely unnecessary. Superfluous. And in a sense, detrimental. Indeed, I can imagine an alternative first encounter — a Take 2 — that would seem to me to be far more pleasurable, and enriching.
In a world without words, our meeting might instead have resembled my Alone Together social vision. Helen might have driven up and, instead of speaking to me, simply done what she came to do. Watch the birds. Silently. Alone, as it were. Perhaps inevitably, our eyes would meet. Smiles would be exchanged. Understanding — knowing — would be shared. Just the essential. The apparent. That we both enjoy observing the birds.
And that would be enough. More than enough.
What is more, the not knowing any more than this, would make for an added pleasure. That of mystery. Of quiet anticipation. That some day, we two strangers might meet there again. And again share, silently, our mutual pleasure.
Sadly, I must confess that because many words passed between us, I have little wish to meet again. I now know too much. To join Helen’s formal birdwatching club — though I do appreciate the invitation — holds little attraction. To meet again in my — our — private place by the lakeside, will mean an intrusion. A slightly unwelcome, and certainly an unnecessary intrusion — the intrusion of words — on the very activity, the essential reason why I — we — travel to that beautiful place in the first place.
I know this to be true. Because it has already happened.
I would much prefer that we could simply be alone … together … in a world with no words.
One thought on “Imagine a world with no words”
Sometimes though I think we have to sacrifice our own desires for the benefit of others.
A frail old lady today needed my help to get to the vet and after insisted she buy me a coffee and cake. I patiently listened to her talk for probably an hour only interrupting as a conjunction forward to the conversation. The appreciation was evident by her brightened demeanour. I brightened up her day.