So a few months ago I lent my father a book. It was a novel- NOT my father’s usual reading material, but he was open to try something new. You see, my father is brilliant. I’m sure most daughters say that about their fathers, but in my case, it’s absolutely, 100% true. My father has read almost every book about history, people, the economy, business, etc. And knows just about everything about everything. Reading novels is a fun pass time for most of us, but my dad would rather read his 500th book about Abraham Lincoln or Thomas Jefferson or anything else from U.S. or European history- usually in one night.
But, being the kind father he is, he took a recommendation from his darling daughter. I didn’t have high hopes that he would like it as much as I did… and I was correct. But what struck him most about this book was actually not the book itself. It was all the underlining I had done while I was reading it. He found it a bit distracting. But mostly he had no idea why I underlined when reading a novel. When he asked, I responded with the truth: “I underline,” I told him, “because I love words.”
And it’s the truth, I love words. When I read something that someone has written that touches me, I have to read again and again to let it penetrate my mind and my heart. When an author brings to life the thoughts and feelings of a character so well that you feel what they feel or think what they think a beautiful relationship is made- a connection. And I have to underline it because it has affected me in some way and I am impacted by those words. Words are freedom, they are permission, they are catharsis, they paint pictures, they sing songs, they evoke feelings, they are a journey… but mostly, words are connection. Words are a thread that weave together with other threads, creating the fabric that is our world, community. I know that sounds pretty hokey. But if you think about it, for many people words are the only way we can connect to and share with others around us. And when we do that, when we put our words out there, we invite others in to know us and share with us. By sharing my words, I encourage you to share yours, and we are now connected, woven together, creating something. That something is called a relationship. And it begins with words.
I have been known my whole life as a talker. In fact, there’s a funny story my uncle likes to tell about a gathering at his house when I was around 8 or 9 years old. After a long evening of eating and socializing my parents wrangled me and my brother up, got us situated in the car and finally started backing out of my uncle’s driveway. As my dad made the final turn to leave, my mom leaned out the passenger window to my uncle and started making the “talking sign” with her hand. We hadn’t even left the driveway and I had launched into my typical monologue and recap of the evening. My grandma likes to say that once I learned to talk I never stopped- my parents second that thought.
Now I have wrestled with this part of my personality all my life. I know that I talk… A LOT. There isn’t anyone in my life who would disagree with that fact. I have tried to talk less in group settings, parties, grocery stores, with my kids, at the park, etc. But it just doesn’t feel like me. I still have things to say, and now they just sit in my head. I have spent most of my life thinking this was a personality flaw I just couldn’t seem to get past. I just couldn’t stop wanting to talk to anyone about almost anything. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t “fix” this part of me.
But recently, I had an epiphany. What if I’m not supposed to “fix” this part of me? What if I was made to be like this? Not a constant jabber mouth who doesn’t let anyone else participate in a conversation; but made to be a talker, a sharer, someone who connects. And so I began to pay attention and here’s what I found. I have been blessed with a lot of amazing friends. I am out to coffee or dinner or a walk several times a week just to chat and catch up with these amazing women in my life. I realized that many of my friends are fairly private and reserved people. They don’t have the diarreah of the mouth problem that I have. So why do they hang out with me? Well, I asked a few of them and what they told me was that I am easy to talk to and I make it easy for them to talk because they feel like I get them, I understand them. They said that my ability to say just about any and every thought or feeling I have makes them feel normal and understood because they feel most of the same things, they just don’t always know how to say it. Crazy!
I read some where that one of the greatest successes of programs like Alcoholic’s Anonymous is that it creates an arena for someone to share their pain; in turn, giving someone else permission to share theirs- connection. When I use my words to share with someone the joy or pain or fear in my life, I give someone else an invitation to do the same. Words, honest, real words allows us to weave our lives and our existence to one another.
Personally, words are freedom. They allow me to escape the cyclone that twists in my mind when I am hyper focused on something or feeling something intense. Speaking them, sharing them allows my thoughts to grow, change, evolve. Words bring new ideas into the light and pushes others away into the dark as they are unneeded or not ready to be explored. Words allow me to share my burdens with others, accept help and make changes. Only by sharing my words can they grow and morph into the mantras and philosophies and wisdom of my life. When contained or trapped within my head words fester and shrink. But in the light of honest sharing and connection my words can grow and bear fruit, make me a better person, help someone else feel better, give someone else the freedom to share their burdens, create a relathionship and connection.
So maybe all my talking isn’t so much as a flaw… it’s just my normal?