The Shotgun Approach
When it comes to what I’ve experienced in life, I don’t always have the right words to express myself.
I’ve always know that I have to use the right words in order to make myself understood. When I write, it becomes a little easier – I have time to think about what I want to say, I’m able to double check and think through each sentence. Writing a real letter is so much easier for me in this way than say, having a conversation online through instant messages.
But when I start to talk to people in person, I don’t always get my point across. It’s hard to convey all the feelings and the depth that I want to.
How you do tell someone how beautiful a sunset was from a mountain top? The special pine scent that wafts up from the valley into the high mountains in the Whites? How when the last flash of light disappeared from the sky, the reds and oranges turned into midnight blues and blacks. How the air tasted sweet and fresh.
Pictures help – but they are just a frozen moment – only telling part of it.
How do you describe that feelings of joy when you wake up next to someone you love if they never have felt that feeling? Is there a way to make someone understand just how close you are to someone, how you know everything about them and can read their every twitch and feeling – read their mind so well that they don’t even have to talk?
For many years I took the shotgun approach to language. If I get enough words and sentences out there that are close to what I want, eventually the person I’m talking to will understand. They’ll be able to pull together enough of what I’m saying to make their own picture.
When I hiked in 2012, I came home and used a more concise method. Trying to get as close to the real feeling and moment as possible, making sure every word and phrase I used was as close to the truth as I could get it. I carried that with me into my 2013 hike.
I still wasn’t able to convey the things I wanted to say with enough certainty. I wasn’t able to communicate what I was feeling – or how I was feeling it with certainty. It was one thing that perhaps doomed my relationship – not being able to communicate what I was feeling clearly.
Last night I went to a open house thrown by my father’s girlfriend. There were two ladies about my age there. We talked for a little and they asked about my hike. I tried to tell them about it – the people, the places I saw. Things I felt. I knew I wasn’t doing a very good job of it. I wasn’t conveying the magic and wonder that the trail gave me.
Until one of them said something that gave me hope.
“You speak about these things with such passion, it makes me want to go out and do this.”
I hadn’t said anything special – I was talking about hikers named Buckeye and Atreyu. Hikers like any other. But she heard the love in my voice. She heard how much I cared for them. What they meant to me.
She didn’t understand the story so much, or the reasoning behind it. It didn’t matter. She felt the magic through my voice, and it touched her.
I think this is one of the first times that I saw someone’s eyes light up with understanding. Not amazement or wonder at what I did – but understanding of why I went back.
The passion that I feel for these people, this trail that they walk on and 2000 miles we spent together came across in my voice and touched someone else.
It’s a wonderful and special thing to be understood, and no longer feel like you’re talking to nothing.