For most of my life, I’ve been about the “doing” of things. Extroverted and perpetually purposeful, I cajole, convince, and counter as much as I communicate. But living (not just visiting) a different culture with a beautifully crafted yet complex (at least for me) language has prompted some changes on my part.
I don’t talk.
Oh sure … with English speakers I’m still chatty and inquisitive and full of totally useless information which I’m more than happy to share. But with my hosts and with their families and with the teachers and several co-workers, I simply retreat into my own world of conversations in my head that I understand and work I know I can do. And I leave the activating and advocating to someone else.
I have even come to know the tone of language as much as the words. When my host wants to ask me something of relative importance the string of sounds I’ve been only slightly taking in changes. And I look up and sure enough there’s a pause and expressions of patience and I have to ask for repetition and then finally I respond.
Not being actively involved in conversations hasn’t frustrated me as much as I thought it might. I can carry on a pretty fun chat with myself — at least I find me interesting. But I still long for not being the one to slow the flow down.
Maybe when I get a true handle on the language (notice that positive thinking) I will get my voice back.
Or maybe … I’ll just listen better.
*By the way, the two photos were chose because I caught friends in contemplation mode followed by action and I absolutely loved how it captured what I was feeling!