Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for Language

Growing up I was surrounded by baseball. My mom played softball, and my grandfather spoke of the good ol' days of Stan Musial, the Babe and days of yore when he himself was young, and once rounded the bases. Many a summer day at my grandparent's house I was subjected to not only watching the locally broad casted game, but to listening (in unison) to a live broadcast on the radio of some out of state game. To this day, I don't know how he kept each game straight in his head, but he did. While I couldn't appreciate then, the nostalgia that I long for now, I've come to love baseball. Especially the Cubs. Especially Wrigley Field. Especially the story of the "greats".

Tonight I went to see the movie, 42. the Jackie Robinson story. It was amazing. It was funny. Most of all it was inspiring and heartfelt. A true, feel good movie. But before the movie began, I was already transported to a day of yesteryear. Outside the theater, I paused to take a photo of the movie poster, and a stranger approached and stated proudly, "I met him.". I looked in surprise as if to question, "You talkin' to me?" and he repeated, "I met him". Yes, he was talking to me. I replied something lame like, "Oh yeah?" and he began to tell his story. He met Mr. Robinson as a young child, and oh how he wished he had gotten a photo. As I listened to him, I began to think, "this man speaks baseball". And that's where this post began.

This man was relating to a complete stranger by a common thread, a theme, a story line -Jackie Robinson and baseball, a childhood hero, and an American past time. IT was a language of ease and love. A language of a simpler time when people played a sport for love not money. And for that, players became heroes. As he spoke, I began to think and wonder, what other languages do people speak? And more so, what languages do I speak?

Of course I speak English, I dabble in American Sign Language and Spanish, I butcher the language of cat, but easily understand dog. I pray I leave this planet with others being able to say that I spoke kindness, optimism, fairness, love and inspiration - but I'm a work in progress and sadly, there is no version of Rosetta Stone for any of those languages. I do know there are languages that I need to stop speaking, like that of self criticism, gossip and negativity. As I continue to examine my own multi-lingual talents, I started analyzing the linguistic talents of those around me.

I've come to realize that some people from different upbringings and different times but not necessarily different cultures, speak languages of lies and insults, criticisms and jealousy. When encountered, those languages hurt me far worse than any "naughty" words that could be spoken. But the good thing is, I've learned to focus on the more beautiful languages that surround me, the multiple languages spoken by friends. Below are translations of the languages I hear from the special people in my life. 

My New Yorker friend speaks a beautiful language of music and inspiration. Simply hearing his talented voice is breathtaking, and his words are filled with such enthusiasm you can't help but get excited about life, or whatever the subject might be that he is talking about. Next there is my Jersey Girl who speaks a no nonsense language, fueled with chutzpah, passion and honesty with an old world charm. I also have a Zen buddy who is my Yoda and despite the amount of adversity she is met with, can speak calm. I don't know if it's her Yoga practice, her faith, or singing, but she can always close a conversation with wisdom, and a sense of serene resolution. Then there is my Logical friend.
Logic Woman listens with her heart, and limits the amount of "fluff" that comes out of her mouth. Don't get me wrong, Logic Woman is compassionate and kind, but will always help me put my pity party and emotions aside, in order to look at the world and my problems with a sense of logic and realistic solutions. Logic Woman melds a perfectly sensitive response with effective advice. Last but not least is my peace and quiet friend. My PQF quietly invites me to share her space, share her time, and share my problems. No matter what language I spew my words in, PQF listens calmly. I find PQF's quietness is just as profound of a language as her spoken words and I appreciate that more than I can express.

All of the languages I surround myself help improve me in some way. They help me see the beauty in life, face reality, relax, find inner peace and simply put, make me a better me. What languages do your friends speak? Have you thought about the words and attitudes that you surround yourself with, and how they impact you? What languages are you hearing? And more importantly, what language are you speaking?

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