We here in the Judaeo-Christian tradition are big on words. And so am I, giant Judaeo-Christian freak that I am. I am a "word nerd," as TED speaker Kelly Corrigan termed it in a recent talk.
Image: no words necessary.
And I put big store by being able to express myself. "Sayin' I love you" is pretty high on my list. That goes without saying.
But I've been mulling over this story I heard on a radio program, about a Native American people in Louisiana, the Koasati, whose language has no way to say "I love you."
In fact, they are not big on language at all. The narrator of the excellent story, a Jewish woman from the Northeast, said that her mother-in-law (who is from this tribe) said this: "Why do white people like to talk so much? I think it's because they like to hear the sound of their own voice."
And the point of the story was that to show love you should do loving things.
All of which makes eminent sense to me. But as a word nerd it stuck in my craw all week.
Take this morning.
I went to the store to get milk, because we had none. A loving act, no doubt. But when I got home, the beloved asked if I had gotten doughnuts as well. When I said I thought about it, but didn't, she was disappointed. "I was sure you'd get them," she said. "In fact, I figured that's why you wanted to go to the store in the first place."
Aww, you're welcome, dear.
Words do get romanticized, sure. But you need them. Even if you are a blogger who loves the sound of your own typing.
If you want doughnuts, for example, and you're not going to the store, you have to say something to the person who is going to the store. Because loving acts do not always include reading minds.
In fact, in the recent TED talk by Corrigan, she claims that scientists have proven that the biggest predictor for "occupational success" is "vocabulary." And based on that, she encourages everyone to read, read, read, because you learn new words by reading.
I am right there with you, Kelly.
One other thing. Last night on Netflix with the Roku I got for Father's Day (loving act, thanks, family), we watched a stand-up comedy show starring Jim Gaffigan. Funny gentleman. And he did a little riff where he ragged on greeting cards, claiming that buying them was lazy.
"Oh, yeah, that sounds like something I'd say," he said in his stupid-guy voice, an imaginary greeting card in his hand. Then he turned around to an imaginary recipient. "Here's your card. Took me five minutes to pick it out."
I'm not an apologist for the greeting card industry. But daughter, who pretty much went on strike from conversations with dad at age thirteen and has not really gotten back to full-time communication yet, gave me the perfect Father's Day card this year. The message was just what dads like to hear from their teenage girls, but never will from their daughters' actual mouths.
Daughter was embarrassed to have to give the card, and thought it was cheesy (though less cheesy than many others, she said).
But the act counts. And so do the words.
Thank you, my dear.
I love you.
By the way, if you want to listen to the TED talk, here it is. Well worth it for you word nerds out there, and anyone else skeptical about the value of language.