There is a song I love called “Words” by a singer/songwriter named Gregory Alan Isakov. In it he talks about how words are so much more meaningful at night time. They seem to take on greater significance because they aren’t drowned out by the din and commotion of the day. So he’s telling the girl he loves to listen to the song at night when words mean more. It’s a beautiful song and has been on my mind a lot lately. I feel like I can’t quiet my head enough to find those peaceful moments of joy in the everyday happenings of life.
Maybe it’s the August factor. The kids are at each other’s throats. My patience got bumped out of the open tailgate of my rickety sanity some time around the end of July. There is quite a lot happening to make it tough to focus on those pure moments of joy. This world actually counts on us being distracted, I think, as a way to function. But that’s probably part of the reason we are all walking around feeling like we need antidepressants. The less we can focus on the true beauty, the more hollow living feels. And I’m guilty of it, too. I sometimes struggle to focus on what is right in front of me.
Scott and I are approaching our anniversary on Saturday. Twelve years, and we’ve created these kids, built a home, and defined our love through every word we’ve ever spoken to one another, discouraging or kind, spiteful or loving. Everything we have is built of a million little moments. I was thinking about what it would sound like if we were to take all the words we’ve ever said and listened to them at once. I laughed aloud, because I was imagining how there would probably be a heavy dose of yelling, sarcasm, and laughing, but then also weird voices while we are reading stories to the kids, and does belching get included? I guess that’s a compliment of sorts… Anyway, we like to keep it real around here. But would there be harmony threaded through it all?
It also occurred to me that we both forget to tell one another that we “see” each other. I don’t mean like, “You look really pretty in that dress,” or “Nice hair cut!” but we forget to remind one another of what drew us together when we first met to make this life possible. Telling your spouse that you “see” them is what will make the difference in a “meh”rriage and a marriage (You’re welcome to use that if you’re cool enough to pull it off). Recognizing their goodness, their inner beauty, is even more important than acknowledging superficial appearances because hair falls out or turns gray, those crow’s feet show up on everyone and laugh (or frown) lines deepen. That inner beauty stays high and tight.
Scott is not one for flashy gifts or extravagant displays of affection, but he has been known to take a minute to write me a note on a few of these momentous occasions to tell me just how he “sees” me. I have them saved them through the years. Besides the kids and our life together, these are the most precious tangible things I have from him. Probably not surprising, my score was a bit heavy on the “Words of Affirmation” section of the book “The Five Love Languages.” But I would be hard-pressed to believe that there is anyone out there who wouldn’t feel truly loved after being recognized for their inner beauty. So imagine if we took the time to say those things more often.
Now taking this theory a step further with my darling (however maddening) children, I realized they probably need to be shown the same. After all, we only know ourselves by the reflection of others’ perceptions of us. That’s what this whole “living with other human beings” thing is about. The past few days have been filled with a lot of whining, eye-rolling, hiding in closets, crying, and the kids have been acting up too. But after realizing how important it is to be really seen and acknowledged, I took a minute with each of them at bed time, when it was quiet and I had their full attention, to tell them how much I love them and one special thing about each of them. I received three long, tender, heartfelt hugs. I think we can start tomorrow on a better foot, maybe just by using our words to bring true beauty into focus.