“What we have here is a failure to communicate.” That is a line from my husband’s favorite movie, “Cool Hand Luke.” This pretty much sums up the state of the world right now. But that’s not what made me think of it.
I was watching an old movie about the “Ziegfeld girl” which incidentally was the name of the movie. Creativity at its best. Anyway, the movie ended and another one came on that I don’t know the title to, but it was Fred Astaire dancing on a Navy ship. Anyway, since I don’t know who the people were in the movie I am not sure of the story, but a woman went all out because her (husband? fiancé? boyfriend?) was coming home. She had a huge ship on the table in the middle of a spread of food by candlelight. This has nothing to do with communication, I just thought the huge ship was cool. But during her preparations the phone rang. She was in the kitchen and didn’t hear it at first, so it rang and rang and rang. This struck me, and I thought about Cool Hand Luke’s infamous line.
Those of you younger than me, which is probably most of you, may not remember life without answering machines. We didn’t always have one—the phone would ring and if you were there you got it, if not it just kept ringing til the person hung up. We didn’t have caller ID either. Sometimes we would have a “code” like ring once then hang up to let someone know we were home safely. No texting of course, and no cell phones. Did we have a failure to communicate? Maybe we didn’t communicate as much, so we had a failure of meaningless constant overwhelming talk that people call communication. But we actually communicated better in some ways.
I once took a class about communication. The instructor said if you really want to communicate with someone, you should figure out how they like to communicate. In the old days we had two methods—telephone or writing letters. Now we have multiple avenues. Young people don’t seem to answer their phones much, so I text. I call my sister, who doesn’t do so well with texting, or didn’t until she got a smart phone and got on facebook. At work I often use email, since I usually don’t need the information that quickly, and I know people are pretty busy with meetings and such.
Yet sometimes, more and more it seems, we just don’t communicate. People don’t really talk. I guess each mode of communication has its downside. In some ways, it’s like we want to talk and reply so quickly that we aren’t really listening to each other. I recently sent an email asking a question that the person had just answered in another email that I had read TWO MINUTES AGO. Annoying, right? We have a failure to communicate. We talk, they talk. But does anyone remember anything that was said?
I went for a walk with Chester around sunrise. The birds are pretty vocal then. There was one particularly loud bird. I didn’t know what kind it was, but my sister is a master naturalist and has a phone line for questions. I recorded the bird and sent it to her. It is a male robin looking for a mate. Oh, and there was no failure to communicate there, that was one loud robin. Birds can communicate without phones, letters, social media, texts, or anything but their songs. We can too. The difference between us and birds is that we try to communicate on a grand scale. We hear about everything that happens in the world and sometimes it gets overwhelming. When something is said that actually has substance, it’s lost in the chatter. It’s a little frustrating.
I’m going to take a break. Listen to the birds. Let the sounds of nature relax me. People can talk. Meanwhile, I’m going to check out the crocuses in the front yard. Here is a picture of them. The squirrels move them from yard to yard, and I think we got a few of our neighbor’s this year; we have a nice crop. It’s OK, they got some of ours in the past. Also, squirrels don’t seem to like purple crocuses. They eat the other ones but that’s OK too. I like squirrels and crocuses so I can share. Take care of yourselves.