Words ...

On several occasions recently, I have been reminded of the complexity of language, both spoken and written.  Without any of the nonverbal accompaniments and emotive elements of the spoken word, the written word is even more difficult to fathom at times.  Sure there are dictionary definitions and a thesaurus full of similar words but many words have more than one meaning even there, let alone in the minds of readers.  So even when words are carefully crafted there is no certainty as to how they will be received.

A specific word may have associations for a reader that we are unaware of.  Less common and complicated words, even when more accurate, can be off putting for some.  They are sometimes not understood, considered haughty or condescending and color the meaning of what is written.  Complex and interesting sentence structures, meant to add color and imagery, sometimes create a very different image than the one intended.

Though I may sometimes overpower with my sense of conviction or style of writing, not unlike in conversation where I have a tendency to dominate, there is nothing I admire more than someone who is able to hold there own through wit, thought and reason.  No temperamental outbursts or petulant silences.  No self-aggrandizement or incessant namedropping.  A pace and energy that doesn’t put one to sleep mid-story.  These are things I long for.  Let me lead and I will bore myself, not just you.

To that end I was intrigued during the exchange of emails with some readers recently.  One reader who stumbled upon my blog, observed that I seemed to be “more of an observer than someone who wants to be observed” and appeared to question the veracity of my request for feedback.  More accurately he said he was surprised.  I might add that I was surprised by his surprise.  Fortunately he was not shy about providing interesting and insightful comments, as well as some personal background which would not be appropriate to include here without permission.  I hope he won’t mind email quotes being anonymously reproduced in this space, however.

One exchange in particular caught my attention.  “There's a certain, clearly communicated perspective of a thoughtful and self-satisfied person who's comfortable with their past choices and future direction. Although the writing is refined and even polished, the thoughts within are at times starkly honest and blunt.”   I must admit to bristling slightly at the term ‘self-satisfied’ as the connotation is hardly flattering.  At second glance, I was actually quite pleased and impressed.  Here was a reader reflecting back to me in a “starkly honest and blunt” manner, with a clear touch of refinement and polish.  Though I might have preferred another word, self-satisfied might well be the more accurate choice.

“I hope you keep the blog up. It seems like you may be getting as much out of this as your readers. It appears that it's an important and personally rewarding part of your life - maybe even an occupation at times - sharing your personal view from the valley with others, trying to discern what effect it's having in other faraway places. I suspect it has caused more than a few middle-aged farangs to question their lives and relationships and long for a small house and new mate in Isaan or Pattaya. There are others though who will enjoy it in a positive way, maybe learn from it or let it be a jumpstart towards an adventure, whether they make it to a beautiful house in Southeast Asia or not.”

The preceding quote comes as close as any I have received in attempting to encapsulate the purpose and intent of this blog.  The only caveat might be a reminder that VF and I are not identical clones.  It should be understood that as VF, I put a particular spin on events and take some literary license in how I relate what I observe.  I am not a reporter or historian.  I do not seek to speak in the staccato monotone of statistics with no room for interpretation.  VF speaks in the lilting legato of life, sometimes pretty and sometime ugly but always from his own perspective.

So yes, I am an observer of life and often a critical one at that.  My most critical observations I can assure you, are directed inward as I would not want to inflict that kind of scrutiny on others. Understand that I do indeed appreciate feedback, especially insightful and interesting stuff, though a pat on the back is not to be dismissed as insignificant.  Thanks again to those who write in and a special thanks to the kind reader I quoted and to others who helped to play my muse today.

So what is the word, one might ask?