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Actions Speak Louder Than Words
This past week has been extraordinary in terms of the number of kindnesses that have come my way. Not that people are not generally kind towards me, but there was just a general increase in the number of kindnesses inflowing to me…well, now that I am observing what happening, there was a general increase in the kindness naturally outflowing from me as well.
But it was more than just the number of kindnesses, it was also the magnitude of the kindnesses. Yesterday, for example, two people offered to send me money in advance of when I was expecting it from them, without my even asking.
When I awoke this morning, the first thing I thought was “actions speak louder than words.” It’s an old saying but it’s true. And my realization about this, this morning, was that actions are a form of communication, and I hadn’t been paying attention to it as a form of communication.
Being a writer I am very word oriented. I communicate with words. I look up definitions of words so I can use the right word. But suddenly I became aware of this whole other flow of communication going on every second of every day and I didn’t even know it was there.
I first began to notice this a few weeks ago. For the past three years I’ve been living with Larry in his family home with his Mom (who I think must be 90 now) and two of Larry’s siblings, a brother and a sister. So there are five of us in a 3-bedroom house. We are here because Larry’s father died and Larry wanted to live with his Mom to help out and he wanted to live with me. The obvious solution was for both of us to live with Mom. Fortunately there is also a separate building with rooms for things like offices and workshops and space to build our tiny house, so we are not all crammed in the house all day long. But we do run into each other a lot.
When I first moved here, everyone was in agreement I should be here. But both of Larry’s siblings were not very welcoming. They didn’t seem to want to get to know me or have me in their lives, in fact they would do things to make sure I wouldn’t come near them. But I just continued to be kind. I spoke with them when they spoke to me. They got to see me interacting with Larry. I was consistently there helping the household for three years.
Then all of a sudden about a month ago, both of them suddenly got friendlier. Without saying anything with words about their thought or feelings towards me, each of them changed their actions toward me.
At first, his sister just started talking to me more instead of ignoring me. She started saying good morning, then offering me cookies she had baked and tomatoes from her garden.
But what really got my attention was Larry’s brother. Larry’s family all eat the same dinner prepared by Larry’s sister, either sitting around the table or watching tv. Larry and I usually eat dinner I prepare in our room. But one night we came and sat at the table. There was food in a big bowl already on the table. I sat down, then Larry’s brother came to the table. Instead of sitting down and taking food for himself on his plate, he reached across the table, picked up the bowl and set it down on the table next to me, clearing offering it to me. He didn’t say a word. And then he moved some other items on the table closer to me so I could easily reach them. That one action entirely changed my impression of how he saw me. In that moment, I felt like he recognized me as a person he could care about and interact with. There were no words spoken, but it was a very clear communication.
Our human connections and how we interact with each other are part of Life. When we interact in ways that are helpful, caring, generous and supportive of Life, we contribute to Life. When we act in ways that are harmful or destructive to each other, we lessen our ability to survive.
All we need to do is observe the actions of others to see if their intention is to create life or destroy it. You can see their intent in their deeds.
Since I started this blog I’ve been working on a list of criteria for choosing products that are lifely. I could analyze the materials but there is this other quality that I didn’t know how to describe or evaluate. And I finally realized it is intent. One can’t analyze every little physical detail of how a product is made and sold. But you can see that a maker has intent in a direction. So if you know, for example, that a maker has intent to make a toxic-free product, they will make a toxic-free product because they intend to do so. And you can trust that because you can see it in their actions. Conversely, advertising might say anything and not give you what you are expecting at all.
People can say anything. But I do see now that actions speak louder than words. I know I will be observing actions more now to see what they are saying.