While writing my recent post, Channeling My Grandmother, I realized my words did not convey the feeling that I associate with those memories. I can relate stories of Grandma or tell what I am thinking, but somehow the visceral feeling and emotions are lacking. It’s as if there is a translation disconnect. Like when you try to translate an idiom from one language to another.
Try to explain having a bit of the “hair of the dog” to someone. I tried to explain it to my daughter and found it took a few minutes. Now try that with a language barrier. I think this comes close to the frustration I feel when trying to find words that evoke the feelings I have around my thoughts and memories.
Along with the emotions I also have mental images that go along with my memories. They say pictures are worth a thousand words and I believe this. Attempting to describe a single image can take me several minutes. Then when I am done I can’t be sure that I have conveyed anything close to the image in my mind.
When I worked in a public school with reading group, we used a game with simple drawings on cards that students would describe as fully as they could. This was a vocabulary building and writing activity. It was not easy, even without the personal association with the images. We would draw exactly what the child described. An image of a man fishing near a bridge on a river could end up looking like a disembodied head with a hat and a fishing pole next to a river and a bridge that may or may not cross the river.
Words are just so cumbersome. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just send our thoughts to each other? I’m thinking of a mental thumb drive that could digitally transfer the whole picture to someone else…right along with all the feelings associated with them. Probably not in our lifetimes. I guess for now I just have to do what I can with the language I have.