I remember my parents making fun of my brother, Stephen, for how terrible he was at communicating when he was in boarding. They always said, “It’s difficult to read between the line,” because there was only ever one, in his emails. He’s never been a man of many words when it comes to writing.
As I look back on the past several months, I wonder if my parents are saying the same thing about me. I think about the amount of short ‘one-liners’ I’ve sent off to my parents or friends lately. I know I mean well. I’m always wanting to set aside a good chunk of time at some point to write a proper email and give a more full picture of things, but it usually doesn’t happen. My all-or-nothing approach with emails usually means people either get emails that resemble text messages, or nothing at all. I’m still waiting for that time when I decide to sit down and write out a proper email.
Unfortunately, so much of life happens between the lines. So many of the thoughts we have throughout the day, or the experiences we go through, never quite make it out to the people who want to hear all about it. I realize this even with Michelle each day, as things get missed or forgotten. And it’s always the craziest or best stories that are the hardest to relate. Some of the biggest lessons, impressions, and insights seem to fall into the blank silences between the lines, as words so often fail to express the beauty and complexity of these moments.
As everyone knows, it’s often when more things are happening in life that communication gets harder and harder. And as the schedule fills up, the conversations are pushed to the sidelines. It doesn’t mean that the conversations become secondary, it just means that as the quantity of story to tell increases, the motivation to tell it decreases. Before you know it, life becomes “a long story” that you hardly ever have time to tell, with all the backstory, prefaces and appendixes to everything that makes up our experiences.
That is, I suppose, the nature of life. So much of it is unexplainable and passes by in a beauty and chaos that can’t quite be captured in words. And yet, it also begs to be described and communicated. As the writer, Thomas Mann noted, “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” And I’m sure, in the same way, it’s the most beautiful moments, of life that art and artists struggle to put to canvas, or to capture with a camera. It’s impossible.
Life is an unpaintable model. However, you may read between the lines in this post, and realize that I do need to work on my communication. I’m a procrastinator at my core, I think— especially when it comes to written communication — always waiting for that perfect moment to start something, when nothing else is getting in the way. But everything always gets in the way. And so, this is part of my effort at doing a better job — choosing to start, and put words on paper; choosing to try to capture the fleeting moments of life.