Stirring up an ants’ nest




Ce que je pense,
Ce que je veux dire,
Ce que je crois dire,
Ce que je dis,
Ce que vous avez envie d’entendre,
Ce que vous croyez entendre,
Ce que vous entendez,
Ce que vous avez envie de comprendre,
Ce que vous croyez comprendre,
Ce que vous comprenez…
il y a dix possibilités qu’on ait des difficultés à communiquer. Mais essayons quand même…”

― Bernard Werber

What I think,
What I want to say,
What I think I am saying,
What I say,
What you wish to hear,
What you think you hear,
What you hear,
What you wish to understand,
What you think you understand,
What you understand…
There are ten possibilities for miscommunication. Let’s try anyway…”

― Bernard Werber (loosely translated by me so I may have mistranslated it to suit how I read it)

We all seek to express ourselves, communicate who we are in some way to others… but we are often misunderstood, because others are doing what we are doing too.

We’re all trying to be heard, to be understood… and listening and understanding becomes secondary to communication in some ways. Everyone is talking and expressing themselves, few are listening, understanding.

There may be a logical reason for that.

The world of communication sometimes seems to be a turbulent ocean of opinions. Be this, be that, don’t be this, don’t be that. Do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that.

I’m better than you because… who do you think you are!

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t… some cliches are true which is why we use them and keep returning to them even though we are supposed to shun cliches because popular opinion says cliches are bad and if you use them you’re bad too, or just lame, or… well, whatever they need to believe you are (inferior, flawed, faulty, unhealthy, imperfect) to feel better about themselves (superior, flawless, in good working order, healthy, perfect).

Everyone is a narcissist. Everyone is a victim of a narcissist… even the narcissist. But no one is a narcissist.

Everyone is right, everyone is wrong. There seems to be no in between. No neutral place where we can meet, interact and allow all sides to be expressed, heard, listened to.

We’re all connected more than we have ever been, yet also disconnected more than we have ever been.

We’re more together, yet more separate and alone. All alone together.

Yet even though communication is fraught with complications, we still try anyway, hoping to reach out and touch someone else. To feel and be felt.

Even though we may be misunderstood and castigated for being ourselves and expressing ourselves… we do it anyway, because we feel there is something more to it than just trying to answer that question which hounds us day in and day out – Who are you? – in all its myriad forms.

We may be complimented, we may be applauded, we may succeed…

We may be criticised, we may be booed, we may fail…

Sometimes we aim for one… and achieve the other.

“Quand les autres vous font un reproche, ils vous renseignent sur ce qui pourrait devenir votre force.” ― Bernard Werber

“When others criticise you, they inform you of that which could be your strength.”  ― Bernard Werber (more loose translation from yours truly, madly, deeply)

We may stir a nest of red ants (whose sting may wake you up at night scratching your wound until you bleed) when we express who we are, what we think, what we feel, what we believe…

That nest may be inside of us or outside of us, or both, or…

What options do we have… stay silent?… but even that is expressing something, and there are those to whom that is very offensive, and will tell us that our silence offends them, but so does our speech…

We can’t please others, perhaps in the short term we can, but the long term is a long road full of booby-traps…

Can we please ourselves… ?

Let’s try anyway.


stanley kunitz


*WPC: On Top