If You Could Read My Mind

“Whatever is not being said is not being thought…and if it’s not being thought it is lost, and it is just those things that are lost that we need.” Michael Meade

Somewhere in my late teens, I began to struggle daily for that feeling of peace and belonging I was sure everyone else must have. But more than that it felt as if I were losing the sense of the familiar in the day-to-day of living, including the natural ability to use language. People would talk to me and all I could hear were the sounds. Yes, it was scary. People Talking Clip Art

It came and went over the course of a few years, ebbing and waning during the period of my life where the sense of my identity seemed most fragile. The experience changed my relationship to language. It was as if the location of my awareness had slipped far beneath the surface where language was once readily available – and in order to feel at ease with language I had to learn to translate non-verbal awareness into words.

This sensation of perceiving from some deeper non-verbal place of awareness, remains with me to this day and in some ways still hampers, or at least slows, both my ability to write and to speak. I am an incredibly slow writer, and editing is most of the work. Reading back what I’ve written invites the chance to refine what is being said, forever reaching down into the well in the hopes of bringing to the surface what seems hidden.

But along with the practice of writing, what continues to bridge the verbal and the non-verbal world is the practice of reading.  It is through developing the skills of language that a renewed understanding of the nature of the world and a broadening of the sense of what is possible is continually enhanced.

IMG_20130824_091312_984During my struggles with language, I picked up one of my favorite childhood books, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and started there. It took a couple of months until reading felt seamless again, and it renewed in me a curiosity for ideas and knowledge that have not left me since.

Reading set me on a quest to want to know everything about anything. How did we get here? Where are we? What are we? Why do we have a level of abstraction that seems far beyond what is necessary for survival?

Perhaps the reason we talk is the same reason that birds sing. Auntie and Uncle 1663

But all language, by its very nature constricts, defines and narrows. All language comes through the context of the writer or speaker. Language can never, by itself, say all that the world is. And yet, without it, how diminished our world would be!

Perhaps that is why we keep on talking, writing, reading, to ourselves and to each other. We never quite get around to saying exactly what we meant to say. There’s always more ways to say more.

And that is why by myself, I will never be enough, but need you, dear reader, dear fellow writer. Our language may never be quite the same, but when we get close enough to rub shoulders, feeling touched, we know we are not alone.

“In a castle dark or a fortress strong
With chains upon my feet
You know that ghost is me
And I will never be set free
As long as I’m a ghost that you can’t see” Gordon Lightfoot

40 thoughts on “If You Could Read My Mind

  1. 🙂 I really liked this post, thank you, Debra! Although I can relate to the part where editing takes up a lot of time, I have the problem that I am a very speedy writer and have very little patience for editing, wanting to get rid of what’s in my head, so I can make room for new, fresh thoughts. It’s a bit of a compulsive habit that I send off emails and blog posts, before I have edited them completely. And end up editing days later still, because I keep having thoughts evolving about a subject I’d thought I’d said enough about at a previous point. “Perhaps that’s why we keep on talking”…I have to admit, many times, I end up repeating my thoughts, just paraphrased, never noticing that I did repeat myself, because it seems like a new thought, when phrased differently. I find this to be a very tough thing to share with other people though, because they hardly ever attribute as much meaning to anything I say as I do myself, having all those emotions and memories and images attached to each word, whereas they may either not be in a simlar state of mind or have other connotations and simply aren’t responsive in the way I’d like them to be. Because of that, most of the time, I find it really difficult to communicate on a level where both are satisfied with the outcome.

    I am not sure how to understand Meade when he says “Whatever is not being said is not being thought” – this kind of suggests if we do not share our thoughts, we cannot make them useful to others. But thoughts are not necessarily shared in the form of speech.

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    • Hi Jane,
      Yes, it’s very tricky, this writing and editing stuff. I can relate to what you say, being as clear in writing as we are in our thoughts is challenging.
      I think Meade is pointing out that there is a usefulness to sharing our thoughts and others may benefit from something we say or write, without our intending it to be that way, and therefore sharing our thoughts with others is valuable.
      I don’t think he is saying that our thoughts are not already useful in other ways But again, I can’t speak for Michael :).
      Can you say more about “thoughts are not necessarily shared in speech?” I may not understand what you mean.

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  2. Your post really made me think, and I do not think like most people! I also have mercury retrograde, but in Scorpio in the 9th house of big ideas. My mind is often much quicker and mre facile than my ability to speak or write. My mouth and hands can rarely keep up, which can really frustrate other people! You should see my handwriting , not!!! I often feel that words are inadequate for meaningful communication. I do delight in them for sheer frivolity and whimsy, the rhythms, etymology, puns, etc fascinate me endlessly. I strongly feel we all want to be seen, and sometimes words are all we have available.

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    • I can relate to so much of what you say, even the bad handwriting.
      I have rapid thoughts and when I try to write them down, there seems a disconnect, but perhaps it is like you say, that thoughts are coming to quick and putting them into language is cumbersome.
      A NYC Dj back in the early 70’s used to say:
      Touches are better than words, but words are better than nothing. 🙂

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      • Lol, yes! The 70’s, definitely a lot going on then.
        Ya have to wonder about the retrograde too!!!
        I am just starting to read up again on astrology, something I’ve read a bit about in the past, but never fully grasped. It is curious that three of us here with a retrograde mercury have similar experiences. 🙂

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      • and Monika and I are both astrologers! Mercury retrograde in a person’s chart is quite different than how it operates in the world at large. I know that I have many quirks with learning and perception, but have been blessed with a quick and curious mind. I see many things most people miss, and yet I seem to miss some details or facts that most people understand readily. Its quite involved and I am still trying to grasp it in its entirety…

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      • Okay, I have always understood mercury retrograde in the world to align with mechanical and technical mishaps, missed communication, etc.
        Yes, quirky learning, same here. I was a terrible student in school, but at an early age, mostly due to frustration, I developed my own habits of independent learning, thankfully 🙂

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    • Yes, that is a powerful idea right there. I must say, it is not always comfortable for me to ignore what others might think. Partly out of fear of being misunderstood, even if the fault of being unclear is mine.
      Other times I simply worry that I can be insensitive, which is probably true anyway. Fine lines can be drawn!! 🙂

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      • All too often I make the mistake of assuming others will understand my intent. That said, there’s a world of difference between being a mouthy ass and writing honestly. I mess up more often than I like – have to say over time I’m getting the hang of it. I always try to let my words flow; my blog represents who I am, how I feel, and what disturbs me.

        When I say I don’t care what people think, it doesn’t mean I’m insensitive – it means – this is who I am, please respect that 🙂

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      • Yes, I understand (I think:))
        it’s important not to let the fear of what others may think keep you from speaking from the heart.
        Thank you for the note, Notes!

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  3. Wonderful post, Debra. I have very similar issues, writing for me is often like reaching down into a deep well for the hidden words. Writing is a process of discovery and I am often surprised when I look back on what I wrote. Yo need to look at your Mercury and progressed Mercury. Mine is in Gemini, but retrograde.

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    • Thanks Monika. I often wonder how the writing process goes for others. Ditto on the reading back too, especially when some time has passed. Sometimes I see that I missed completely on what I was trying to say, but once in awhile, I am surprised and think, Did I write that? 🙂
      Mercury in Virgo, retrograde. Maybe it’s the retrograde?
      I am reading up on some astrology hoping to learn its language.

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      • Virgo is a cool place for Mercury. So we both have them retrograde. Neat. I think there is a definite quality attached to it – we often have to go back, retrace our steps, sometimes the words are not readily available. The retrograde mind thinks towards the archetype and away from the material reality, I think.

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      • Oh yes! I love how you say that. You have nailed it for me. Words are not readily available and half the time they don’t even come out in an order that makes any sense, lol! It’s a good thing I like editing…
        But, still, there must be something – maybe even the difficulty that you and I and others with similar natures experience, that makes reading, writing and the drive to articulate all the more necessary?

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  4. I love Brother Grimm’s tales even now! It gives me the beautiful feeling of having become a little kid again without any shackles, free to imagine whatever they like. It is so important for adults to live in the authenticity of a child every now and then. I feel our emotions and our language itself flow a little better then and the communication itself is lit by the spark of purity and carefreeness.

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    • Yes, absolutely Rex! Those Grimm tales can be read on so many levels too. I enjoy them now, and other mythologies as they carry us both beyond time but also are an eye into the peoples and cultures of other places and times.

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  5. “But all language, by its very nature constricts, defines and narrows. All language comes through the context of the writer or speaker.” I’ve often wondered about that place in us in us all where we connect beyond language, where language in a sense gets in the way, a place where we know and feel without the expression of words. In a wordy culture these moments seem to be few and far between, and yet when we rub shoulders in this way there is a depth of communication, a relational quality and perceptiveness that outstrips words. Marvellous post Debra. Thank you.

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    • I so agree about that place Don. I have been giving a lot of thought to it lately. The paradox being that when using words to try to describe some non-verbal level of life, we never fully get at it. But each of us, I think, brings to light a small piece of it.
      As I get older, I sense more and more that this place is not solely inside us, but that we are in it, which is why we have a sense that we’ve all been there.

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  6. I think you know already know intuitively that there is a connection between you and the world you inhabit that goes beyond language. I think you know already that the way you inhabit the world requires you to feel your way through it. Even the word feel does not capture the reality of what is going on inside you. Even though you may think the way you exist in the world is a curse, you have actually been blessed with a great gift.

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    • Yes. so true. Blessed or cursed, we all have a song to sing, might as well keep on keeping on.
      Gifts, yes! And don’t we each give and receive as we share our thoughts here?
      Thank you 🙂

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      • Your post struck a chord with me as well I must admit. I fall into envy reading some things on line wishing what I think could flow into words as easily as how I perceive others’ writing. Your post made me think of David Abram, who uses this quote in The Spell of the Sensuous.
        “We know what the animals do, what are the needs of the beaver, the bear, the salmon, and other creatures, because long ago men married them and acquired this knowledge from their animal wives. Today the priests say we lie, but we know better. The white man has been only a short time in this country and knows very little about the animals; we have lived here thousands of years and were taught long ago by the animals themselves. The white man writes everything down in a book so that it will not be forgotten; but our ancestors married animals, learned all their ways, and passed on this knowledge from one generation to another.”
        – A Carrier Indian, from the Bulkley River, in British Columbia

        Is this a clue to the struggle with words? Do we need to step outside the human sphere and dance and sing or dream them into being as our ancestors once did? I wonder

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      • Yes, you make some very good points! I hope to make time to respond to them in another post. Thank you for making those connections and sharing them here 🙂

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