Sunday, May 29, 2016

Word Struck: When Speech Gives Way To Silence

Good Day World!
Have you ever been struck speechless?

Momentarily stunned by a comment or by something you saw? At a complete loss of words? Tongue tied? I have. 

On my first date in junior high. It was really pathetic. I searched for words to impress my date and made croaking sounds that scared her instead! 

The first time I had to stand up in front of a class to make a speech, I lost my voice. I stood pointed at a chart and coughed. And coughed. Words barely discernible as human came out of my mouth mocking my efforts at communication.

The teacher took pity on me. She pretended I made sense and gave me a passing grade.  

When I think about it, I’ve been wordless many times in my life:

  “Where have you been all night young man?”
   No response.
  “Who said you could take that last piece of pie?”
   No response.
  “What were you thinking?”
   No response.

 You get the idea. It’s pretty common to be at a loss for words. I’ve given this a lot of deep thought (about five fully focused minutes) and I think it’s a survival instinct. If you say nothing, it’s better than saying the wrong thing. 

Think about it:

“Where have you been all night young man?”
“None of your business…” 
This is where harm comes in.
“Who said you could take that last piece of pie?”
“Grandma…she appeared to me in a vision…” 
This is the where you get to stare at the wall for the rest of the afternoon.
“What were you thinking?
“That I wanted to get fall-down stupid drunk and tell you…” This is where your mate locks the front door and lets you sleep it off on the front step.

Sometimes silence is golden. Or at least better than a truthful alternative. Then there are times when words can’t begin to describe what you’re seeing.

For example, when I watched each of my three sons enter this world I was without words. My world tilted each time, but no fine speech instantly sprang forth to honor the births.

Mere words could not describe those moments of new life I was shared with my wife. I saw my past and my future. Life and death often leave us speechless. 

The passing of my sister and brother, both so young, left me mute with misery each time. Words were dust in my mouth.

After 65 years of experiencing times when words were worthless or needless, I’m still amazed at how quickly they flee in times of stress, pressure, or pleasure. 

For example, when you get a back rub and are asked if it feels good, words seem unnecessary and a contented sigh says everything!

The next time someone asks you if the “cat got your tongue?” just smile like the Cheshire cat in Alice and Wonderland, and don’t answer.

Time for me to walk on down the road...

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