The meaning of life

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.

12 thoughts on “The meaning of life

  1. I sometimes start to cry (grrr) when I’m expressing deep feelings. Or when I’m angry. I have noted too – how in internet conversations – meanings and feelings can take a hit. Local expressions (from one country to another or even from one state to another (U.S.) can create problems. Good post, Susannah!

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    • Glad you enjoyed it, Karen. Writing the post for your international blog post was also on my mind when I wrote this.
      There are many different phrases/expressions between Aussies and Americans!

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  2. At the moment I read this post I’ve a book on my left that I’m reading now and loving. It calls “Man’s search for meaning” of Viktor Franklin! Just remember to leave u the suggestion : ) And lovely post once more!

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  3. So my juniour teacher was right when she said ‘mean what you say and say what you mean.’ Also how often do we forget that God gave us two ears and one mouth so maybe we should do twice as much listening as talking.

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  4. We misconstrue spoken words and actions. Such a long list of moments from my life! And then there is the Internet. How many comments/email are misunderstood because there is no tone of voice or body language?

    When I feel insulted or bothered by what someone has said to me, I try my best to consider other meanings before I say anything to anyone else. Doesn’t always work, but sometimes.

    And I teach adults English. Talk about misunderstandings. Add differences of culture, religion, language…every day I have to practice real communication, not just hearing.

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    • Oh yes. I find emails and any blog comments I make must be worded very carefully and read twice before hitting the send button!
      I like how you consider all sides before commenting further in conversation – we all need to adopt that! Misunderstandings when there are differing languages can be quite hilarious, but also, disastrous! 🙂 Good on you for learning to communicate most effectively!

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  5. What a wonderful post, and I agree about the misunderstandings! I wish texting and commenting could be made a little clearer too, like some italics and smileys or something. It’s so very difficult to tell when someone is being snarky when they type something.
    I enjoyed this post and the comments too! Especially the one about two ears and one mouth, I hadn’t heard that before.

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    • I’m so glad you liked it 🙂
      Back in the ‘olden’ days when people would write letters to communicate, I wonder if there was as much confusion….or maybe because that was the main mode of communication, people were more proficient at saying what they meant….? Maybe too, people weren’t so busy and had the time to take care with their written word? All I know is, I agree with you. Some txts and emails are so ambiguous!
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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