Is Your Meaning What You’re Saying?

I am unashamed to admit to my constant search for understanding.

Every day, at least once, I haphazardly discern a pattern of some kind or turn my curiosity toward the nature of various objects I encounter. Whether wrapped up in string theory or bemused by a quirky phrase, I set my mind to the task of pulling the object apart to see what makes it work, to catch a glimpse of “the miraculous in the common“.

This is why my writing bounces around.

When I sit in front of my laptop at night, I am often merely reporting the observations and conclusions I’ve made during my waking hours. I intend to be organized and direct, then I am whipped into a frenzy of inspiration and piece together syllables with little, if any, idea of where I’m headed.

All I can tell you for sure is a light goes on in my head and I become determined to help you flip the same switch.

As such, I’m sharing a quote from René Descartes which has stuck in my brain for a couple days:

To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.

At first glance, this seems to echo the old adage that actions speak louder than words. In fact, my initial reading found it an elegant rephrase of the classic cliché and thus, I added it to my collection.

When I read it again, I saw an inconsistency and sought to resolve it.

Saying something is an act.

To speak is to define thoughts and reveal attitudes. Perhaps the message is subtle, yet something is delivered by every word out of our mouths. I suspect most of this is unconscious, as a large percentage of our daily verbiage–if we were to record ourselves and listen–would be judged little more than inane drivel. (For me, this amounts to half-clever comments aiming for a cheap laugh.)

How often do we think about the story we tell from day to day?

In my mind, Descartes forgets a critical distinction: there is a difference between saying one thing and doing another and saying something without thinking about what you’re doing.

Most of us fall into the latter category, we toss about sentences of all kinds with little attention or intention. In truth, we’re usually unaware of the shackles our words have become because, well, we have no clue we’ve handcuffed ourselves in the first place.

What does that say about us?

If I were to spend my day walking alongside you uttering foul statements about your worthlessness, would you want me around?

Further, if I were to share them with every person we saw, how quick would you be to punch me in the face?

Why allow the same from yourself? Is it any more acceptable just because you are the person saying it? How does that affect the way you act?

Asking these questions produces critical answers.

This is the yeoman’s work of making the connection between yourself and your limits.

The investment in self-examination is admittedly high, yet the return can be astronomical.

Your life may just gain new meaning.

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1 Response to “Is Your Meaning What You’re Saying?”



  1. 1 Watching Your Language « MeBuilding Trackback on August 2, 2010 at 7:37 am
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