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Monday, November 10, 2008

Language Barrier

A bit more on mean spirited women. In particular, a 5 foot high Indonesian of the aforementioned type. In short (no pun intended), my wife.

It seems that quite aside from the reckless act of entering into marriage of any sort (for by the third time around I should surely have known better), I had also failed to fully appreciate a multitude of peculiar barriers specific to the choice of this particular mate.

First off, she is very much younger than I (24 years younger, to be exact). Young people do not think in the same way as older people. I am not quite sure, frankly, whether they really think, properly speaking, at all.

Secondly, there is the culture barrier, Asian to American. Just look at the troubles we have had in the past. Troubles with Japan, troubles with Vietnam, troubles with Korea. And lets not forget China. Given this troublesome sort of history, what else should I have expected?

Most significant of all barriers, however, is the language barrier. My wife speaks and understands spoken English well enough; yet, when she becomes angry, the basic constructs, the building blocks if you will, of shared intent and comprehension begin to fall onto and over one another, scattering at our feet as if spilled from a child’s toy box. We end up in a mess of garbled delivery and fumbled reception.

One mistake, one failure in clarity, leads to another, and very quickly so. Pretty soon the sky is falling. It’s a given. Everyone knows it. Chicken Little said it was so.

For two days we argued; or rather, we got the actual arguing done with early on, and then simmered in mutual silence, replaying our own versions of what had actually been said—which were both, of course, quite different from what the oft wanted yet never available voice recording would have revealed.

It so happened then that in the middle of the night, I on the sofa, she in our bed, I awoke to a sudden grasp of the essential miscommunication that lay behind the entire kerfuffle. Like a fly in the soup, a bug in the program, it had compromised our discussion at its very core. Poor grammar can be deadly, believe me. Sarcasm, especially, needs an exactitude that may be beyond the person who is speaking English as a second language.

Now I’m not saying, still, that she’s not a mean spirited woman. Because she is. The truth is, we are all pretty mean spirited at heart, all natural men and women, born to the bondage of all the things that are the least honorable in life. It takes an effort to break out. It takes a will, a sacrifice, and sometimes a dream.

I suppose that in conclusion I should mention multiple sclerosis. It is, after all, what this journal is supposed to be largely devoted to. And so I will say that arguing, that fighting, that marital troubles are not good for the person who has multiple sclerosis. Or at least in my own case. I find very quickly that my familiar baseline symptoms begin to grow significantly worse. The pain that is always present in my legs intensifies and spreads, locks itself into my knees, invades by upper thighs and groin; shoulders and neck, already tense, begin to toy with the idea of total paralysis; and my confusion becomes itself confused.

I find quickly enough that I have slipped again toward thinking I’m a normal person—that I can argue and be hateful and insulting and hurtful just as if I were perfectly healthy and able.

It’s not worth the price. It’s not worth risking the consequences. All things must be put in order again, and the whole picture allowed to fill the screen. Nothing, after all, is all that damned important. Nothing but love, and peace, that is.

1 comment:

Brian Barker said...

Language barrier?

Perhaps there's an argument for Esperanto after all!

Check http://www.lernu.net for evidence if you have time