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Ungod

An odd fear

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When I was practicing Aikido (for a very short period of time) a very long time ago, what we did was a little meditation after the warm-up before going into techniques (I think it's called zazen?). It was there to clear the mind of any thoughts and I think it worked. I sometimes did it at home and I always found that my voice was comparably weaker after doing it. During meditation, you don't do much - you just stare, if your eyes are open. It was because of it that a very original fear/thought occurred to me. It's about language.

Only after reading a bit on language did I realize speaking is hard. I mean, you just learn it in infancy, so you never really understand how hard it actually is. The other day, while I was waiting on something, I saw a little girl chasing a dog, trying to feed it some crackers or something. She kept calling it 'Am'. What she was trying to say was 'Ham', but I suppose that's slightly harder to pronounce. In the absence of the word, she just imitated the sound it makes. Personally, I would have called it 'hau' - and I guess most people would. You have 'howl' in English, don't you? Dogs howl.

It takes a long time, if you are educated, to accept the idea that language and words evolved from the sounds that we imitated. All around us, animals and plants make sounds, and the wind, and water, and rocks as well. We didn't come up with nouns in a fancy way, we simply tried to imitate the sound a thing does to 'name' it. Some people on this big planet still have issues with language - and you can see how hard it is for them to speak. They speak from the abdomen, and they probably feel pain in the guts trying to get out sounds. It is so unnatural to them. You see, sounds travelled from the gut to the throat and later to the mouth - but that was a long journey.

 So what is my fear? I thought 'If you meditate long enough, could you forget to speak?' The thing about speaking is that not only it is hard (which I always felt it to be, even if I am eloquent and if you get me started on a topic I like, say goodbye to your evening), but it's often so...pointless. Speaking of which - as far as I know, the guy who came up with Aikido didn't explain the techniques to his students, he just showed them. 

I feel so comfortable in my silence I'm afraid I might actually go like 'forget it, they'll get it if I use gestures'. Hey, I could pretend to be a mute! I know of a writer who pretended to be crazy and had - in his words - 'a wonderful time' in the facility, among loonies (well, he also tried to fake his suicide to get rid of his wife, so he was slightly eccentric - or not?)… but then I'd have to learn sign language, which I really don't wanna. If I have to speak coherently, why bother learn *another* language, when I already know a few?

This is my fear. That one day, I'll just wave goodbye to eloquence and growl when I really have to. I think that'll be the day I learn German.

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"forget how to" I doubt it. (not counting Alzheimer's and other dementia or aphasia inducing things obviously) 

Reaching a point where you can't be bothered to. Yes definitely. Happens to me disturbingly often. (German won't help you there either I'm afraid :D )

But then someone poses a good question or shares an interesting thought and there we go again.

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Yeah I'm at a point where random day to day conversations seem very pointless to me, so often I go days without speaking. It would just be better if figuring out immortality was a little easier and maybe I'd have more to talk about.

Would you forget how to ride a bike if you haven't done so in a long time? I'm sure you will retain the ability to speak, just that your vocabulary and pronunciations might degrade over time. Practice makes perfect as the saying goes.

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There's another thing with language and us as individuals. When growing, we explore as much as we can - and if someone has an interest in language, oratory and maybe a knack for languages, that someone will try to expand that worldview as much as possible. Being young also makes you entertain some kind of a dream, so words might become more than they really are. 

If you take 'good' and 'bad', for example, which make for a fairly standard example for this, you go full circle. Good and bad are relative to the speaker, but even then you have difficulties. What is good for you today, you might notice, is bad for you in the long-term, and what was bad for you ten years ago proves to be good now. And then, what is good for you is bad for another and there is always somebody who will try to convince you of how bad or good something is for you - some because they care about you, some because they want to use you. An outsider might see clearly what you are doing 'bad' or 'good'.

Last, but not least, sacrificing a little from the 'good' of every individual might lead to the 'good' of a society. A ruler might see this and decide what is 'good' or 'bad' for the subject, even if it counter-intuitive and the 'good' declared by the ruler looks really 'bad'.

Taking all of this to heart, can you easily talk about what is 'bad' and what is 'good'? Not only that you can't, but you see that sometimes it's best to decide what's good and/or bad immediately, without thinking too much. In other cases, you have to ponder the question, because the wrong answer will hurt you. Isn't small talk better than endlessly rambling/philosophising? But then, small talk will never get you that feeling that you really connect to someone, when sharing more than you should (like now).

I don't think you can forget speaking, but I think enjoying the silence does cause you to reject language more than you should and then people think you are an 'uneducated peasant' (I don't think I'll forget this wording from the AL) even if you're really above their level . I think I'll go for a daily exercise of 'speaking'. You know, the Chinese have these -  'healing sounds' they call them - that you would practice daily to...whatever they think they do. It's very easy: it's about shouting sounds like 'ho' or 'he'. If anything, it might prevent throat cancer, who knows.

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