Friday, February 04, 2005

Ever have one of those days?

It’s just not happening today. I came up with a few ideas of things to write about. They sounded really good in my head, but when I got to the computer keyboard, nothing came. For example, I wanted to write about a movie I just watched, “Lost in Translation,” with Bill Murray. It’s the movie about him being in Tokyo on business, he met a woman who was staying in the same hotel, and they became friends. They talked. They ate together. They drank together. They got to know each other very well. But something really important didn’t get said between them.

He was working on several commercials for an alcoholic drink called Santori, trying to make sense of the demands of his energetic and demanding director and photographer. He didn’t speak any Japanese and was convinced that most of their direction was being lost in translation. Long tirades and gestures on their part were reduced to three or four words by his obviously anxious translator. Again it seemed the most important parts of the message never made it over the language barrier.

So I wanted to write about how life often feels that way. I wanted to write about how I listen to my children talk about their friends and the trials and tribulations of childhood. I listen to Steve talk about work and the demands on him there. I listen to friends talk about their marriages and work lives and their children and all that is going on for them. I read email, blogs, postcards, letters, and take calls from people in joyous, dire, enthralling, and frightful situations. Some are traveling the world over on business and pleasure. Others are bound in rather tightly prescribed circles of life. I seem to understand all of what I hear. It seems to make sense to me. I nod at the right times and places. I ooh and aah when appropriate. I cry at times of sorrow and loss and guffaw at the jokes and antics of those who so freely share their humorous anecdotes.

But then something strange happens when I begin to speak and tell my stories. It’s very similar to what I have felt when I have sat down to write this week. I sometimes feel like most of what goes through my mind doesn’t make it to and through my lips very well. I am convinced that most of what I long to express will be lost in translation from soul to soul. How do I say “I love you” to my friend in a way that doesn’t cause panic or discomfort? How do I say “I can’t imagine what you thought was going to happen” to a family member without sounding judgmental? How do I say “I miss you” over the telephone line without sounding foolish or maudlin? How do I say “Please forgive me” without choking on my guilt? How do I say “I don’t really care what you think” without sounding callous and indifferent?

At the end of the movie, Bill Murray hugs his new friend and whispers something into her ear. No one but the two of them is privy to his words, but instantly their countenances are transformed. The tension between them vanishes. Relief is immediate and obvious. They go their separate ways but everything has changed both between them and within them.

Today, I could use a hug like that. Today I could use a long and warm embrace, a whispered, secret, solitary thought, a strong hand to hold, and a few moments of stillness. Today I could use a long walk with someone who has nothing to say, just walks with me, someone who is just there. Or perhaps a long drive in the car would do. Quiet. Alone together. Today I would love to have one of those times when nothing is lost in translation.

Nope, it’s just not happening today. But I guess we all have days like that.

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