Monday, June 1, 2009

You ask her questions
She can answer with her words
And sometimes she answers with her touch; that talks
as clearly as her lips when they speak
And these red roses say you love her
But she’s never heard it in your voice
Why couldn’t you tell her so she could know?

She twirls the tiny umbrella that sits in her margarita around in circles
“If only he loved the way I love…” she thought
As you sat across from her, your head resting in your hands
Looking beyond her, day dreaming dreams she can never see
“If only she knew the way I loved her” you thought
You were always fearing your words would never be enough

Then the silence takes on a tremendous weight,
Like a heavy leather coat in the dead of winter
That still can’t warm your shivering heart

You’re tired legs walk to the mail box
With your postcard that reads “I love you, come back”
But your fingers won’t loosen around the paper enough to let go
As you walk away with your future still in your hands
She sits alone at a park bench with her notebook
Writing you letters she’ll never send

You lay down with the postcard crumpled in your hands
She closes her notebook and lies it close to her heart

Holding on to a love that will never be

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Power of Communication

You can find it in a song, a painting or a sculpture but I found it in a film.

In the film Good Will Hunting the main character Will is a janitor at MIT who happens to have a miraculous gift for mathematics that is eventually discovered by one of the professors at the institute. Accompanying Will’s innate arithmetic intelligence are childhood years full of physical, mental and emotional abuse which has been the source to his constant problems and delinquency with the law. This story is about a boy who finds help through a therapist to acknowledge his past and in the internal pain and struggle it has caused him. His genius mind alone that leads him to amazing job opportunities could be a way for him to find happiness but not until he starts with his history of inner raw pain and lingering ache will he be able to heal and repair himself.

Sean Maguire, Will’s therapist, uses his profession in psychology and therapy to reach out to Will and help him recognize, accept and let go of his past. Will was abused by his foster father when he was younger and as a defense mechanism he repressed these painful feelings and memories. However, all the while these realities stayed locked away in his unconscious. Because Will chooses to forget his abuse he also falls under the defense mechanism of denial, as he tries to acts as if the painful events never really happen. When help seems to get closer, like with Will’s therapist, Will “pushes people away before they can leave him” Sean Maguire says. Rationalization is an other defense mechanism Will acquires. In definition, it is the cognitive reframing of one’s perceptions to protect the ego in the face of changing realities. When Will gets close to someone, for example, his girlfriend, he immediately alters his position in the situation when he feels someone is getting too close to the pain he keeps bottled up inside.

It’s important to know all this about Will Hunting to fully appreciate and comprehend the impact Sean and Will’s communication had on Will’s recovery. Session after session of therapy meetings together Will’s refusal to speak gradually subsided and eventually allowed him to talk to Sean without effort about every day things like the girl in his life, his friends, his math ability, etc. The angles Sean chose to take were both from a professional standpoint and also as a friend. Because their conversations included typical boy topics as far as sports, girls and work go, this easy going approach helped reveal more and more about Will’s inner battle. “It’s not your fault” Sean repeated during one session Will was especially angry. “It’s not your fault” Sean said over and over as he stepped closer to Will until they were face to face. Here, communication and this human interaction finally helped Will expose his feelings that conflicted his heart and mind for all his life. As a response, he cried hysterically, releasing angry tears that have waited what must of felt like centuries to escape.

Communication and conversation has paved a path for Will to take towards acceptance, recovery, balance and stability, and most of all a chance to love and be loved. All of this is considered a gift from the blessed ability we were given to communicate with one another and reach out to each other.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Communication In It's Different Forms

Communication, in its many forms, plays an essential role in Tim O’Brien’s ‘How to Tell a True War Story’, Elizabeth Berg’s ‘Range of Motion’ and William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

O’Brien uses his words to communicate an experience of six soldiers in the mountains. Without this story that symbolized the various ways these men were affected, us as readers would not be able to comprehend the severity of their war experience and how it permanently impacted them. The communication and contact through words between we, the readers, and the soldiers in this tale is precisely what allows for an understanding between us both. The soldiers hallucinate that “Everything talks. The trees talk politics, the monkeys talk religion. The whole country, Vietnam. The place talks” and instead of dismissing these illusions as absurdity or insanity, their experience written down, communicated to us through O’Brien’s characters and actions, allows us readers to see it with fresh eyes, hear it with new ears, taste it with hungry mouths, and feel it with understanding hearts. Communication is used as a tool through story writing. It illuminates this specific stories’ purpose which pleads with us readers to understand that we won’t understand, that there won’t be an “ah ha, I get it!” moment but instead that we will feel appreciation, empathy, and compassion for the openness and ambiguity in our own lives and the lives of others.

In Elizabeth Berg’s ‘Range of Motion’ the main character, Lainey Berman, struggles with her husband Jay’s tragic accident that has left him in a coma. This loss of communication and connection between husband and wife leads to Lainey’s struggle as a wife and as a mother of their two daughters. Unlike with O’Brien, when words themselves were the key communication that portrayed his meaning, Berg’s characters are face to face with a relentless silence, a hopeless hush. Communication takes on a different form in this novel. “How we speak when we don’t speak” Lainey thought to herself, as she hemmed the button to one of her husband’s shirts. “I’ll hem them by hand, thinking healing thoughts with each stitch.” Here, this character takes communication and translates her message of love through her hands, allowing they themselves to take on the delicate form of her “healing” thoughts. While in the hospital, Lainey also becomes observant of the other day to day visitors, of the many nurses and doctors and the relationships they share through their actions she’s studied. Here, again, Elizabeth Berg brilliantly and consistently reveals communication in its other form. Lainey watched “as the nurse carried his coffee in to him as though it was her heart on a silver platter, which of course, it is” and witnessed a love story of it’s own unraveling right there in front of her. Instead of Elizabeth Berg coming right out and saying that there was a love affair going on between two workers, she sticks to her pattern of communication through the body and hands and hearts and cups of coffee and silver platters and other physical objects. This book held many purposes, but one important one being that this type of communication, which happens through our actions and the sincerity behind our thoughts when we do act, has just as much a voice as words do.

Shakespeare’s tragic tale of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a frustrating experience of a “miscommunication”. It’s set up, which includes the son of Montague and the daughter of Capulet falling in love foreshadows this play’s inevitable heartbreaking ending. When the two go on to get married in secret by Friar Lawrence, this secrecy and covert communication through only these three characters is symbolic of their unaccepted love. The battle outbreak between Mercutio and Tybalt leads to Mercutio’s death, despite Romeo’s useless attempt to talk to and communicate with him first. When Romeo ends up murdering Tybalt, his wife’s kinsman, this implies the failed efforts Romeo had at all to compromise with the Capulet’s is officially vanished. As Shakespeare sets up these disastrous events to continue like a domino effect, Juliet and Friar Lawrence’s idea to drink “fake” poison so her and Romeo can live together in Mantua fails and it’s foreseeable what comes next. Friar’s letter to Romeo explaining the plan never reaches him and of course he only hears of his wife’s death. THIS one task, THIS one message of communication is the most significant and imperative moment that could have altered the outcome of these two lovers. As Romeo poisons himself next to Juliet’s tomb and she eventually finds him and realizes what’s happened, her own attempts to poison herself by kissing him fails but she goes on to bury his dagger in her heart, falling dead, too, over Romeo's body. Here lies tragedy in its truest form. Shakespeare brutally proves to us how devastating a “miscommunication” can be and how it can cause eternal ruin in the hearts of its victim’s and the one’s left behind to witness it, like Romeo and Juliet's distressed mothers Lady Montague and Lady Capulet. This play is a major contrast to both Tim O’Brien and Elizabeth Berg’s literature works. The other two novels enlighten the positive wonders and powers of communication both through words and story itself and when it’s formed through actions and objects. With Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare touched upon the fears and tragedies that transpire if or when miscommunication occurs, this is of course portraying how important communicating is, but instead Shakespeare does it indirectly by focusing on the dark end of it instead of the light and this is where his work differs from the others.