One of the reasons I enjoy writing so much is that I can express myself better through writing than through speaking. I find it difficult to communicate with other people face to face or on the telephone, to express my thoughts and emotions, to make friends, to become close to others. I do not stammer or fall into a paralytic muteness, but my words never flow, and when they do come out, they seem jumbled, haphazard, incapable of conveying what I think and feel. They never seem to be the right words.
In my mind, I constantly carry out persuasive monologues, discussing everything from literary matters to romantic problems to global affairs, and I must admit that there are moments when part of me enjoys hearing these monologues. But when the moment comes for decisive speech in real life, when I know that a few right words can turn the balance in my favor or lead to great things in the future, I am simply incapable of coherent speech. Which is bad:
“Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.” – Stephen Hawking.
Nor am I particularly good at discussing more sophisticated matters, recounting stories, or quoting from books. On the other hand, I am an attentive and patient listener. People open up to me and tell me things they don’t usually tell others. My short and frail appearance no doubt helps, because I appear (and am!) harmless and innocent. I also tend to refrain from judging others, which also helps.
Many times I am misunderstood, usually in a negative way. My verbal awkwardness and shyness conspire together, leaving others thinking I am rude, mean, or odd in a bad way. It can be really frustrating, especially when it happens with people that I want to get closer to, so much so that many a day I am thinking of renouncing society altogether and building myself a cabin in some snowy woods, to dwell among the wolves and the bears.
What keeps me here, among you? Well, first of all I am a clumsy, impractical person. I wouldn’t last a week in that cabin: the wolves and bears would eat me. Then there’s writing. While I cannot say I am satisfied with the way I express myself through writing – there’s so much progress to be made – I have to admit it helps me make sense of the world around me and deal with unavoidable disappointments.
Finally, I also have the fortune to meet sometimes, online or in the flesh, someone who seems to be on the same frequency with me, someone who may be different from me in many ways, who may be older, who may live far away, but who seems not to need my words to understand me because she somehow already does, as if in some past life, or rather in a dream, we have done things together, we have shared a solitude, we have been accomplices of some kind, and that past complicity of ours still lingers with us now, helping us understand each other.
“Almost nothing need be said when you have eyes.” ― Tarjei Vesaas, The Boat in the Evening