Saying one thing at a time is difficult
and surprisingly rewarding
I have found that it is both useful, and difficult, to say one thing at a time.
My thoughts often feel like tangles of feelings and ideas, not even sentences, a mishmash of phrases and clauses, dangling with participles and dripping with implications.
“Here,” I vomit, a cat offering a hairball, “take this pile of half-digested experiences and feelings.”
Is it any wonder the listener is repulsed?
People eat one bite at a time. They live one breath at a time. They listen, one idea at a time. Communicating one idea at a time is just as hard as eating one bite at a time, or living one breath at a time.
It requires hours of practicing presence to live, and be, and speak, in one moment.
Without that intentional practice, I find my attention smeared across the past, the future, and the present, oozing between layers of abstraction. Is it any wonder that this way of being feels unpleasant? Is it any wonder that listeners feel equally unpleasant?
Concentration is the essence of making any point.
To be, to speak, in one moment, consistently - that is a level of genius I have yet to reach.
Even if I only manage to speak one sentence, I’m still often communicating multiple things at once. For example, suppose I tell Alice, “There is pizza in the refrigerator.”
In my experience, I am also telling Alice,
I believe that you trust me to honest with you.
I believe that you trust me to accurately assess my own worldview.
I believe you are willing to listen to me speak about this topic at this moment in time.
I believe that you can understand what I am saying.
I believe that this will not cause drama, i.e. that you are capable of receiving this information about my worldview without experiencing emotions that will overpower your capacity to listen and reason.
I believe this information is new to you - that you are either currently unaware of what I am about to say, or that this information may not be informing your thinking in the present.
If I am to speak just one thing, I must choose my words carefully. I must mindfully select the moment in which to speak, the tone of voice to use, the volume, the intonation, the pitch, the curvature of my spine and shoulders, the tension of the muscles on my face, and the position of my hands.
I am tempted, now, to add more words. More sentences. More details.
I will refrain.
The funny thing is, when writing dialogue, the goal is often to say as much as possible in the shortest sentence, in in order to clue in the reader to the situation.
Reminded me of The Four Agreements:
Don't take anything personally.
Always do your best.
*Be impeccable with your word*.