Sunday, August 22, 2010

"What we got here is a failure to communicate ..."

Voices. They’re distinct.

Many people in my life I can recognize purely by their voice. Although I’ve not heard my mama’s voice since December 13, 1992, I still remember how it sounds. That’s comforting at the times when I miss her most.

With other family members and close friends, I can hear their voices and I know who each one is without even seeing their faces. Even some of my newer friends like Robbie and Misty.

Voice recognition is just another way of identifying people. There are even times when you can recognize people you don’t even know just by hearing their voices. Take James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman for example. I don’t know either one of them – although I had a brief encounter with Mr. Freeman on the Oxford Square several years ago – yet I can recognize their voices in the many voice-overs they do for commercials and documentaries. They begin to speak and I instantly know it’s them.

I find it really funny when people call me on the phone and say, “Hey, it’s _____________!” Why do I find that funny? Well, #1, if they call my cell phone, I know who is on the other end of the phone before I answer it. Odds are, if I answer it at all they should feel fairly special because I often use the caller ID as a filter of sorts to determine whether or not I even answer the phone to start with.

But that’s another blog post within itself, I guess.

The other thing that makes me laugh when they say, “Hey, this is __________!” is simply, well, I know their voice. I’ve heard it enough that I’d recognize it at “hello.”

I have friends who our main source of communication is text messaging. It’s a decent way to “talk” – it’s instant and you can choose when it’s convenient for you to respond (although I try to respond ASAP because I can sometimes forget someone even sent a text).

Text messaging is often limiting, though. It’s really hard to put emotions in those little characters even using LOL or JK and such. When reading texts from someone one, you truly can’t get inflections in voices or even sarcasm (unless you really know the person writing the text message). Sometimes people totally misunderstand the intent of the emotion behind most text messages and can either get their feelings hurt or become really angry by something typed in a text.

For the most part, I’m quite content to communicate via texts. But there are times, I admit, when I simply need to hear certain people’s voices. Some of them I’ve gotten to understand that need; others still don’t quite “get” it. I can read encouragement, but there are times when I honestly need to hear some folks say, “You can do this!” “You can make it!” or “Hey, this won’t last forever!” Even “I can’t do much from here, but I really do care” translates really well in my heart when I actually hear someone physically say it.

I really appreciate it when some of my friends randomly text me and write “I love you, Kim Jobe” in the text, but there are times when I need to hear the people I care most about in this world actually tell me that.

And sometimes there are just those rare times when I just need to hear certain people talk. I don’t think it’s a lot to ask from a friend.

Tusha has been my friend since we were children. She is one of my most consistent friends – we have been so close for so long that she is truly more like family to me than a friend, to be quite honest. We started out as pen pals and wrote letters fairly faithfully through our early 20s. We have also spent quite a bit of time talking on the phone and I have visited her in New York three times. We, too, have adapted with technology and we often send emails to one another. To be honest, though, she is one of the few people I will sit down and actually pen a letter to because it’s that important to me.

Although we try not to do so, there have been times over the past 35 years (yes, we have been friends that long!) when we haven’t kept in touch as closely as we should. She is a second grade teacher, is married and has two young and very active children who enjoy dance, cheerleading and various sports. Spare time is a rarity with her. And I understand that. There have been a couple of times recently when I have sent her emails concerned about the distance between us.

A few weeks ago she called and we got the chance to talk almost uninterrupted for half an hour. It was during that conversation that we decided we were going to make a more concerted effort to communicate more often. We are going to take turns calling one another about every six weeks – if for no other reason than to check in for five minutes or so and hear one another’s voice.

It’s that important to the both of us.

Time is a high-dollar commodity. I’m going to quit wasting so much of mine and start investing it.

Good intentions are not a valid argument when friendships drift away. Life is busy, true, but we make time for things that aren’t even as close in importance as the people we hold near and dear. I plan to quit saying I’m going to get better about communication and simply put my good intentions where my mouth is – and either call the folks I love from time to time or at least send them a card to let them know I’m thinking of them.

I have a feeling it will be something that will not only bless the lives of others, but will bless mine in return.

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