I want to read and learn all I can, write thoughtfully and truthfully, live according to reason and ever more mature wisdom, and savor every wonderful little gift of life.
“In reality they all lived in a kind of hieroglyphic world, where the real thing was never said or done or even thought, but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs.” —Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
I love this clever statement from one of my favorite authors. I think it applies to social interaction in our world now as much as in the world of her novel. Sure, in America today we’re much freer with our expression than in the dignity-embracing era around the turn of the twentieth century. Freer, yes—but not clearer. If anything, when we communicate with each other today, we’re more muddled and vague than our ancestors were, in my opinion. Many of us (and I have been as guilty as anyone) tend to speak in mysterious half-meanings and vague innuendos, letting others piece together our implications through our tone and body language. I think this is not a virtue. Clarity and honesty are virtues.
Taking the time and effort (yes, it does require effort) to say what we really mean, whether in speaking or in communicating electronically, can go a long way toward improving our relationships and our overall quality of life. It’s very rewarding to understand ourselves, to speak genuinely about our experiences, and to be understood by others. Furthermore, any learning process, such as personal growth, involves the process of distinguishing, labeling, and generally clarifying. So, by not spewing out hinting, half-thought-through, “hieroglyphic” words—by instead slowing down and self-editing to achieve precision and clarity in what we say and type—we quicken our process of personal growth.