“I love you”, means…
The ability to actually, truly listen transcends even our perceived limits of the deaf. Yet truly listening seems to be an elusive character trait prevalent in only a small percentage of human population.
Listen: “to pay attention to someone or something in order to hear what is being said, sung, played, etc”,“to hear what someone has said and understand that it is serious, important or true”. (Mirriam-Webster, 2016)
Lets imagine that we do have the ability to truly listen for just a day! With that ability lets focus on what we hear in a typical day of being in close proximity to a multitude of different people. In order to make a much more personal point, lets focus on hearing the words, “I love you”, or even just, “love you”. Each time we hear these words spoken by someone lets focus much harder and also observe what transpires immediately before, during and after we hear these words. Why?
Hollow: “an empty space inside of something” (Mirriam-Webster, 2016)
The words we speak can be ‘hollow’ in the sense that they are empty or devoid of any true meaning. Just something that leaves our lips in an audible tone as our minds already race elsewhere and our focus lies far down the path of our day.
In my neighbourhood I have observed and heard, “love you” being yelled over a shoulder as an afterthought to a significant other. In observing the scene more closely tears flooded my eyes. The recipient of those hollow words stood in an open doorway visibly longing for eye contact, for those words to be spoken lovingly with meaning and validity. One hand clung to the door, the other waived at a partners disappearing back. A facial expression exposed the desperate wanting for those words, “love you” to transition in a deliciously passionate kiss, for that feeling to fill the day with joy. Not so. This observation was not an anomaly. Why does this happen? Do we not sense the underlying emotion silently screaming desolation?
We are programmed, almost hard-wired, by society our jobs our education to run, produce, focus on the future, forecast, predict, plan… our every-day lives place incredible pressures on us to conform. Genuine, loving communication requires focus and commitment. Do we have any of that left by the time we return home to our partner! We must dig deep down and contribute to the dualistic nature of relationships. Our partner ‘won’t care how much we know unless they first know how much we care’. Do they truly know? Or is that something we now simply assume and take for granted.
Effective communication involves all of our senses combined with body language and spoken words. Paramount is the ability to truly listen as well. Deaf people know that they can listen with their eyes and other senses! Conversely, the way we speak, how we use all of our senses of expression will have a profound effect on the message being delivered. If what’s said is focused, genuine and carries substance, a person truly listening will not only hear but will receive that with all of their senses! Often our body language speaks more loudly and clearly than the words leaving our lips. Combining all of that can take communication to an entirely different level!
What if the scene I witnessed earlier was different. What if there was a genuine focus on communicating. What if the words spoken were not hollow?
“Love you”, he almost growled with lust in his eyes as he leaned in for a kiss that would certainly last a day. Passion flared, soft hugs exchanged and the lingering scent of patchouli wrapped itself around her like a warm blanket. She watched his form disappear down the walk and waved lovingly as he turned to blow one more kiss in her direction mouthing the words, “I love you babe”. This is most certainly communication filled with genuine substance. A stark contrast to the hollow words witnessed earlier. I want to be in this relationship, I am!
The difference is a sharp focus on merely seconds out of our day yet the lasting effect of endorphins and pure joy is hours. It truly is focusing on and choosing to live in each moment as it unfolds. The choice to be in love is ours. Unless we choose to communicate in a loving effective way our partner may come across someone else who does. If we leave it at that the love will eventually dry up and whither in the winds of change. The choice to be deliciously in a love that gives, takes and flourishes is also ours. That involves being present, living precious moments to their fullest. It requires relationship speak with loving intent, a focus on truly caring about what we say, how we say it, what we hear, how we hear it and making each moment one that we have consciously chosen to live.
Does your love feel desolate? When we focus on examining our relationships, communication should be one of the first qualities under the microscope. This one quality encompasses so much more than simply speaking and listening. Know now that it includes all of the human senses and truly can be tantric as well. One must not always speak to be heard in a loving, compassionate and caring relationship.
My partner and I often share the same space for hours without audibly speaking. Body language, facial expressions, blown kisses, gestures and touch all combine in some of the most awesome communication we have ever experienced. Our relationship speak has become a precious quality that we focus on and practice all the time. We have been together eight years and have chosen not to ‘fight’. Sure, we have had arguments and passionate conversations. Our ability to effectively communicate with one another transcends the need to ‘fight’. Living the moment has become fantastically important. What we choose to communicate within those moments has also become precious.
Care about what you speak and what you speak will care about others. So tomorrow is another day, it will begin with another morning. If I were watching quietly, what would I hear, what would I observe as you left your home to get on with your day?
Peter Lerch, Writer/Photographer
*All photos are copyright of Peter Lerch Photography and may be used by written permission only.