One of my favourite Bee Gee's songs is 'It's only Words'.Not even sure if this is the actual title but the lyrics say so much. I was recently reminded of how easily only words can be misrepresented when it is only the words that are heard and not within any sort of representative context or even without knowledge what kind of a person is delivering them.
I was at a cafe with a friend and we were bantering away as per usual without any thought to who could hear us. As usual I was doing most of the bantering. Being known for my satirical commentary on things in particular and life in general (some would say facetious commentary) I quite openly spoke of the long wait for coffee, of the large belly of the manager who seemed to glare at the cash register and yet grin at the coffee machine, of the vast number of greasy chips customers were being plied with and of the idiot who ordered the wrong item.It was all said tongue in cheek, my face straight, my eyes twinkling, my mind whistling. The person I was with knows this is how I am. Nothing is meant to hurt or upset. I am careful to be respectful when it is required.
However, sitting at another table a rather sombre couple were clearly hearing every word I said and were taking it for real. They sat stony faced as they peered in my direction. Obviously to them I was little more than a noisy, grumpy, bitch, for speaking in a manner that was supposedly meant to offend. I smiled back, not fully realising until later why they were sending me their silent stares. Naturally they had no idea of my personality, of my kind of humour, of the person I am. In otherwise, they were hearing only harmless words that were totally out of context.
From a writer's point of view it is great to hear words spoken by anyone, in any manner, because words are grist for the mill. Words give the writer freedom to let the imagination fly and to conjure up a story around what is said, without requiring any accurate reference to the speaker or the context. Yet, it dawned on me that day, how harmful words could become if misunderstood. I began to think about how easily problems arise, how a fracas evolves, indeed, how wars can be started. Misunderstanding comes mainly from just hearing and/or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. All very illuminating.
Of course, to a degree I've comprehended this since High School. Yet now and again it is good to reassess what it is you know, what you think you know and to think perhaps more carefully before speaking, especially in public. It is only words but words are all I have to take your heart away...or, perhaps, to sadly💗 hurt it forever.
"Think on, lass," as my grandmother used to say.