In an earlier post, I talked about a beautiful conversation I shared with my grandma about Catholicism and witchcraft. I was later talking to another family member, marveling at how well the conversation with my grandma had gone, and he said something that has stuck with me ever since.
But first, some context. This conversation with my grandma was by no means flawless, but what was interesting is that even though she said a few things that could have been misconstrued and blown out of proportion, in the conversation, it never even occurred to me to interpret them in a negative way.
In the past, it was as if my mind was hyper alert to any word or phrase that I could conceivably take offense to (what a great way to approach conversation, eh?), and once a trigger phrase was uttered, my mind immediately shut down and retreated into, “This is bullshit; she doesn’t understand me.” And communication ground to an unhappy halt.
This time, however, even though some of the same trigger phrases were used, all I felt was the love and enthusiasm my grandma was sending. Her word choices might be different than mine, but I could feel this overwhelming vibration of love underneath those words. Which brings me to what my family member said that really hooked into my soul.
He said: “You were listening to the music, not getting hung up on the lyrics.”
It has always amazed me, given how much we filter reality through our own layers of experience, and then have to somehow, miraculously, transmit that experience to others in the form of limited language, that we’re able to communicate with other human beings at all. It’s like a machine with a bazillion parts, each one representing a potential source of error.
As George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” And yet, somehow it does happen. Every day. With many different people who have walked completely different paths up to this moment. It really is amazing when you think about it.
And perhaps listening to the music, really opening yourself to what another person is intending to convey, even if they’re failing (miserably), can help prevent all of us from getting overly hung up on the lyrics.