"When you're drowning you don't think, I would be incredibly pleased if someone would notice I'm drowning and come and rescue me. You scream.” John Lennon
My little Volkswagon has refused to start for the past two days. I got it last spring, so this is my first winter experience with a diesel and I wasn't prepared for what happens, or what doesn't happen, when it's twenty below outside. The kids went to the mountain with Richard on Friday, so Daisy and I have had a very quiet weekend. I've slept a lot, eaten minimally, caught three mice and watched two good movies. My friend, Kristin, rescued me yesterday to take me to the VW dealership so I could purchase the supposed magic elixir which wasn't so magic after all. It seems the only antidote to a frozen car is a warm world. We did get to have a nice lunch in Shelburne, however, during which we did what we always do: talk about men.
The night ended for me last night in a four-way texting conversation with some of my southern Vermont friends, during which we talked about a date one of us has tonight and a date one of us had a few nights ago. There they were again, those pesky men.
I'm wondering why we females spend so much time and energy talking about men. These women I am privileged to have as my friends are smart, funny, naturally beautiful, self-reliant, soulful creative babes. You fill a room with them and it would make any man faint from sensory overload. Of the eight or so with whom I am in regular contact, only one of us is married, which really gives me pause. What does it say about us? What does it say about marriage? And why, for God's sake, are we still talking about men all the time? We started this conversation when were about 12; isn't time for a change of subject?
I have a theory and it would make me really happy if you men would play along for a while, just to see if things get any better. Most every man I've come in close contact with seems to subscribe to the flawed axiom that actions speak louder than words. At least I think they do -- most of them don't actually articulate that belief, they just go about their business, hoping, I think, that we women get that if they simply show up, it's enough. My theory is that if men were to start telling us what they're thinking, we could stop talking about them all the time and that would free up so much space in our lives that we would be able to get a lot more done. Seriously. Just like that: you men start talking; we women save the world.
I know it's true that words can be poor purveyors of sentiment, but somewhere along the line some mischievous deity endowed us all with speech, setting us apart from all the other species in the kingdom. Why not make the most of that little gift? Johanna Nichols, a linguist at UC, Berkeley has argued that vocal languages began diversifying in our species at least 100,000 years ago. One hundred thousand years of oral expression and we women are still trying to get the men we love to tell us what they're thinking. It seems kind of silly, put in that perspective, doesn't it?
My fellow men, you wonderful creatures with whom we women share this Earthly experience, we know you can talk and we know you have emotions. We've seen you watching football games; we know what happens when the Dow gains 400 points in a day. To express one's self with words is not weak or feminine; it gets the job done. Do you believe the woman gracing you with her presence is captivating? Enchanting? The most interesting of the three billion other possibilities? Then say it. Don't let her walk out the door not knowing those things. For sure actions are great, I mean who doesn't like kissing, hand-holding, walking in the woods, a man who empties the dishwasher or folds the laundry without being asked? Actions rock, but words really clear the air of any confusion or misconception. And men, I must tell you, words make women swoon. If you're trying to get a woman in bed, tell her what you think when you glance across a room and catch sight of her, when you smell her, when you hear the sound of her voice. Tell her what the world feels like with her in it, there close to you. Don't wait until she is gone to think of all the things you wish you had said. The words you keep locked in your head are your most precious coin. Spend them more freely.
In this increasingly technology-saturated world, I would argue that words are more important than ever. Words take the energy inside a heart and head and give it shape; words move thoughts and feelings out into the world, where they can do good work. Words convey strength and clarity and intention and they take the maddening mystery out of the dance of love. Words are the best of what makes us human and the perfect complement to a cup of action.