Understanding requires careful attention

Jennifer Kingsley
October 1, 2017

Russian. Learning this new language feels like searching for a shoreline through the fog. When shapes begin to emerge, they come slowly and all at once. The meaning is fuzzy, but I’m on the approach. More and more often, I have small and exhilarating moments of clarity. (His dog! He’s talking about his dog!) Sitting with someone, each new word is another doorway to reach each other. Each syllable leads to a room we haven’t been in before: tomorrow, now, breakfast, birds, happiness, wind . . . Thank you, today was a beautiful day.

I forget that this applies to any relationship. We each speak our own language, and our personal work is always cross cultural. Here, where making a new friend requires diagrams, dictionaries, hand gestures, and many hours of sitting quietly, I remember that understanding requires careful attention. Always.

Photo by Eric Guth.

Birds fly at sunset in Russia.