Okay, so I lied in the title. I wish that a simple blog post, from a simple writer, really could answer that age-old question, but alas, I fear it will not.
The meaning of words, is what the title really should say. Funny how words are supposed to have the same meaning to everyone (well, at least in the lucky country, we should all know what we are talking about) but often don’t. They tend to get mixed up, leaving the speaker and the listener equally as confused as one another.
Take the other day for example. My parents are at our place (nice, all good so far), they begin telling us about a mutual friend and where she is at (nothing unusual there) and then my dad says an expression that I take to mean one thing, which is quite different from what he actually meant. He looked slightly confused at my response but I didn’t think much of it because that happens all the time (only joking, dad!). Later in the conversation, it dawned on me that I had got ahold of the wrong end of the stick entirely. Man, my sides nearly split from laughing so hard.
It really struck me later how easy it is to get your wires crossed in conversation. So often what we say, we don’t actually mean and vice versa.
Meaning what we say and actually saying what we mean are two different things. Often our meaning and our words are at a juxtaposition, causing all sorts of problems in our everyday life.
Sometimes, saying what we mean is hard. Finding the right words to articulate our feelings is tricky. Too often, words have leapt from our mouths, only for us to realise split seconds later that that’s not what we meant at all.
Sometimes, meaning what we say is hard, too. Saying we will help a neighbour move house or saying we will visit a difficult relative are hard to say and really mean. Words seem to fly unbidden from our lips and then before we know it, we are spending our Saturday loading and unloading the neighbours ute full of furniture.
You know what I think the lesson to learn is? Thinking. If we really thought before we spoke, we would both mean what we say and say what we mean.
Oh and also not assuming your parents know the meaning of the phrase ‘cutting someone’s grass’ would help too.