What is language at its most basic level? A medium for communicating, correct? Most often we think of language as formal, spoken language like English, Spanish, Mandarin, etc. But even when speaking with others, a large part of our communication is nonverbal – tone, volume, cadence, body language, and facial expressions all play a very large role. Words themselves aren’t everything. Hence the explosion of emoticons with our textual communication J
Indeed, words aren’t often enough to convey what we mean. As the Planet Walker has written, “We cover up our deepest thoughts with too many words.” Herein, when words fail us we often turn to other mediums of expression such as music, art, poetry, dance, etc.
Sometimes, we have to communicate without spoken language or the arts. This is where the nonverbal communication comes in handy. The smile is universal and really comes in handy in these situations. But I would say the language of creativity is also universal, especially when creating together toward a common goal.
These thoughts have come to me while participating in the monthly workdays at my community garden. On the second Saturday of each month, everyone sets aside the priorities of their individual plots for a few hours in order to focus upon the collective projects for the greater community. These often involve weeding and cutting back overgrowth, as well as bigger projects with our communal herb garden, outdoor classroom, and accessibility. These days bring together a diverse array of individuals representing many nationalities, cultures, and generations. Indeed, our garden community is host to many refugees from across the globe.
I have spent many hours working side by side with individuals far older or far younger than me and often without a shared spoken language. Nevertheless, our common language of collaboration coupled with the universal smile and non-verbals makes our work nearly seamless. It has been during these moments that I am amazed at the common language of work and the common language of creativity. Despite not speaking a word to one another beyond a simple “hello” or “thank you,” we have shared experiences with one another at a unique level – we aren’t covering up our thoughts with too many words. And each month when we see each other again – or even now and again when we see each other in their own garden plot from afar, we have that shared bond and common experience. We now share our own language.