Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Absence Of

I am part of a small group that makes important decisions about charitable giving. All four of us are spirited individuals with distinct opinions, diverse backgrounds, and, family/life situations. Most of the time we agree. We can move forward and see the fruit of our labor.

However, there are times when we see things differently, and because of obligations and different schedules, we often communicate via email.

Email communication lacks the ability to convey true feeling. Gone is the nuance in tone, or the accountability in eye contact. Miscommunication may take days to sort out. Questions are put on hold, misunderstandings flame when we can't ask on the spot, "Wait, do you understand?" or when we can't create u-turns that bring peace: "I'm sorry," or "That's not what I meant." Lack of physical contact, hugs specifically, that triumph over misunderstanding, are impossible through electronic conversation.

But by far, the worst, is to be ignored. It is why silence is often called cold, hard, silence. To respond to an email, to passionately explain one's position, knowing it may be contrary to the majority, knowing it has logic but may need further explanation, and then for it to be ignored is a kind of cruelty. The communicator deliberates, wonders. Did they not read it? Did my message never make it through cyberspace? Or worse, are they communicating among one another in a separate email thread? I can't see anyone's reactions to my thoughts; did I offend the people I love?

In the the absence of communication, an albatross* hangs around the supposed, contrary-person's neck. The dead albatross gets heavy and smelly. Having spoken up at all becomes regret. We long to fling the albatross, but it's part of the silent condemnation.

It is the same with romantic love. People describe love as painful, but this is a mis-construction of love. Love is bliss, fulfilling, exhilarating--it is the absence of love that is painful.

Communication, even miscommunication is not painful--it is the absence that makes it so.


*Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1834