We have language. It’s one of the interesting features of the creatures that we are, and of our experience. Words have extraordinary power; our understanding of the world, and of our lives and who we are, rest heavily on the words we choose to express that understanding.

We even understand how limiting that can be, and our understanding is portrayed in a simple bon mot, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  We love words, we use words, even knowing our words cannot tell the entire tale.



I probably use too many words. Even using so many, I sometimes find myself struggling for clarity, or to express myself accurately. Precision and poetry are two very different tools to tell a tale. I tend to be very frank, to the point of lacking common boundaries. I also tend to favor ‘pretty’ language, to the point of sacrificing clarity for something that ‘sounds better’ to me. My TBI has a thing or two to say about the way I use language and why, another tale for a different day. I bet it can be difficult for people to understand me, more often than I’m aware.

I’ve been more about questions than answers for a while now… how nice for me, I suppose, only… some questions function best immediately preceding an actual answer. lol I mean… “How do I get to the train station?” is likely to be most efficiently followed by actual directions, or a simple “I don’t know” than anything else.  I’m honestly not sure I’d do that well on it, if it were a test.  With me it might be something more like this:

Person “How do I get to the train station?”

Me “I rarely ride the train, these days, although I prefer it to flying. Well, unless you count the commuter trains…”

Person “How do I get there?”

Me “You’d have to get downtown. If you want Amtrak.  If you’re just using the light fail, you could grab it a lot of places. Where are you going?”

Person “To the train station. How do I get there?”

Me “To the train station? Or down town?”

Person “To the train station!”

Me “Oh, the same way as if you were going to go down town – you take the light rail.”

Person “Where do I catch the light rail to the train station?”

Me “Right here.”

Once upon a time at a train station...

Once upon a time at a train station…

Oh, yeah. So me. I do try to answer the questions I am asked as simply as possible, although it wasn’t something on my radar until a couple years ago. I often thought it was strange how jacked up people could get over ‘a simple conversation about a [train station]’.  Someone who loves me very much, enough to care that I be able to communication easily with other people, finally sat down with me and explained what he saw in our conversations – with actual sketches, diagramming of sentences, and propositional calculus; I got it.  Fixing it is an entirely different matter. Sometimes it is as basic as a preferred sentence structure, a syntactical detail, that confounds real understanding simply by being unexpected to the listener, or inexplicably uncommon in general speech. lol Sometimes ‘pretty’ gets in the way of conveying information. Pretty is distracting.

One of the bits of weirdness I am working on is a clear preference verbally for ‘phrasing things in the negative’. For example, if asked “How are you?”, I would be more likely to say “Not bad, thanks!” than “Good, thanks!”.  It’s pretty consistent with a variety of types/intentions of questions, too. I regularly reply to questions using negatively phrased replies, that seem to satisfy the question, mostly by way of dismissing it, rather than providing information. I don’t think I have a spare lifetime to study the phenomenon, instead I am simply working on changing how I reply to questions.

(Is it important whether the challenge I have with answering questions is a byproduct of a traumatic upbringing, or a brain injury? How many hours of my life have I wasted trying to source something solely because I wasn’t satisfied with it, instead of simply acknowledging my dissatisfaction and acting to change?)

The title? Oh, that – well, simply this: Dune would have been a very different movie, wouldn’t it, if, when Paul is asked “Tell me of your home world, Usul,”  he had replied “It’s not like here.”  I realized, upon considering it, that finding balance, contentment, satisfaction, and meaning is a different journey, and a different experience, when I am living what it is – rather than what it is not.