I find myself repeating this almost daily as a mother and wife. It’s become a mantra of sorts, I suppose. My children are busy and often involved in whatever is holding their attention (usually not me) and don’t always respond when I speak to them. Because I care that they understand the rules, the guidelines, the instructions etc. that I have just rattled off, I will repeat myself usually precluded with one of the aforementioned questions. I know this is the norm. I’ve heard and seen it in many of my friends’ households and heard it from my own parents when I was a child as well, but recently I have thought about what I mean when I say these words.
I am an over-thinker. As a writer of novels, this is not a bad thing to be. It makes it easier to imagine every possible outcome for my characters. But as a mother and wife I probably spend too much time on why I use that particular set of sentences. In reality I know they hear me. They are not deaf and I do not have a quiet voice or manner about me. What I mean when I ask them this is “Do you understand what is expected of you?”
“Yes Mom, I hear you.” -The most common of the answers to my questions, and usually accompanied by a sigh of frustration.
But that’s not what I really wanted to ask. And just because they heard me doesn’t mean they understood me. So why not just ask them the question I mean?
Because I might not like the answer? Because I might have to explain? Maybe because I feel pressed for time and don’t want to delve into it any deeper. Maybe because it’s habit. I suppose the answers are as infinite and different as the people giving them. But this over-thinking writer is concerned with how it shapes who we are and the world we live in.
“Say what you mean and mean what you say.”
I’m sure you’ve all heard that phrase before. Do you all hear it in the Horton the elephant’s voice too? 100% LOL
It doesn’t seem like a difficult concept. But the more I think about it, the more I understand that the world around me rarely follows this advice. We say things we don’t mean all the time, during arguments with our family and friends, to our bosses and coworkers to curry favor, to strangers to be polite. What would the world look like if everyone only said exactly what they meant? Would we all want to live in that world? Would it be more complicated? Or less?
Hmm… sounds like another book idea is in the works. Who wants to help me with research?