Words and Meanings and Our Work

It becomes very difficult indeed to use words to get across an idea to another person, because each of us attributes a meaning to each word that is personal to us. Our meanings don’t quite match since we are all different from each other in some ways, though we are the same in other ways. And so it is with the meanings of words.

Although the meanings we are trying to convey to each other don’t quite match we can get close, or at least make an attempt to get close. Transferring our meanings for words is like trying to catch butterflies. We can run around with a net, but the net has to be bigger than the butterfly. That’s what meaning is. It’s bigger than, so we need a whole net full of words surrounding the meaning, to try and catch the meaning.

We can use mindfulness to get away from our automaticity and be present for another person, but there is a dichotomy in this process: we are dependent on our automaticity. We are dependent on the organ that is our brain, and we have to somehow transform that dependency and get outside the limits of that.

Information transfer is relatively easy, but the capture of knowledge is something else. Humans everywhere have developed cultural ways to transfer knowledge. We started transferring information orally. Through stories and personal narrative people shared their life experience but that information had to be worked upon to become part of a lived experience.

At my age I can talk about the information that has come my way in my life, and at this stage I have a lot more memories and stored information than someone who is twenty. Condensing my lived experience into words, though, and then saying, “Now you know what I know” is at best only an attempt at sharing my knowledge.

Although I encounter many challenges when I attempt to share what I’ve learned with people who want to find another way to raise their kids, sometimes I am able to reach them and they are able to understand what raising kids actually means. Then we both triumph; I get to share the meaning of my work, and their capacity to raise their kids in a mindful way expands.