I spent all day yesterday using no words. I got this suggestion from Gwynn Turnbull Weaver while I was attending a riding clinic given by her and her husband Dave. She noticed I’m a big lover of words. I like to use them and plenty of them. The odd thing is I have times when I just don’t want to talk. But when I do, watch out! You can hardly get a word in edge-wise. Part and parcel to this is my chosen avocation which is writing. Yes, I love words. To be specific – and specificity is a symptom – I love language. For example, one of my favorite books of all time is “The Story of English”.
But I digress. Gywnn had suggested trying to get in touch with “feel” by living without words for 24 hours. I thought this was an intriguing idea. To be honest, during my Transcendental Meditation days I had gone without speaking for a whole week. So I had a bit of experience. I vaguely remember that the first couple days were the hardest but that when the week finally came to a close I found that I had little to communicate that was of any importance. During that time I was allowed to write notes to people. So it wasn’t a week completely without words. I was in retreat so my meals were made for me and I had a whole pine forest to hike in and commune with the wind in the trees. This time it was going to be different. I had animals to take care of and I had to make my own meals. I was not going to write anybody any notes. My partner Marty was gone camping with his daughter and her family. I was going to avoid any human contact. I was not going to go on email, watch TV, listen to music or anything like that. I was just going to spend the day in silence and see what happened.
Almost immediately I came upon a challenge that I was not expecting. My cat doesn’t work off “feel”. Looking back I’m not sure why I was so surprised at this. My cat doesn’t understand pretty much anything but his own version of “my way or the highway”. What made this worse was that he escaped the fence right away and went bounding off into the coyote-infested brush. So there I was trying to figure out how to call him back without calling. I must confess I gave up. So there it is. I called only long enough to get him back and then I resolved not to get caught that way again.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. I found my dogs work off feel for the most part. Instead of calling “get in the truck” I simply looked toward the truck and made a big sweeping motion with my arm. Satisfying! My horses totally work off feel. When I was giving my gelding his meds and the sassy little Don-keh (a miniature mule) came sidling in to see if he could horn in I gave a big kick-out with my foot. He gets that! I’m sure he was kind of laughing inwardly so awkward my kick-out actually was but he got the idea. I’m glad no people were around. It must have looked really stupid! The other geldings and the mare get the kick-out, too. Horses don’t really communicate much vocally. I haven’t been able to imitate it anyway. So fortunately feel is already working there.
I didn’t have any trouble with talking to myself out loud as I thought I might. I satisfied this need by talking sublingually to myself. The mind is like a monkey! It was chattering away to itself a mile a minute the whole day. This is fair warning to you. If you ever go 24 hours without words you’ll be frustrated trying to keep your mind quiet so don’t even try. As a matter of fact, not trying, Yoda-like, might be the best way to handle it. There is no try, only do!
When I got bored with being in the house I decided to go to the reservoir and bob around in the water on my inner tube. There were people there. I observed how much we talk! There were a couple little girls playing and they kept up a constant chatter. A man and a woman swam nearby and they, too, did the same. Language sets the human race apart. We have the ability to communicate with a look but we need to explain and expand. We often misinterpret a look and don’t trust it. I don’t advocate getting rid of language but it’s a revelation to go without it for a day. Try it sometime and see what happens.