Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Show me, don't tell me

A couple years ago, we realized my baby girl was becoming deaf. It started with a sensitivity to loud noises like thunder and chain saws, then we began to realize she was losing her hearing. We were very grateful that we'd taught her hand signals in addition to vocal commands when she was a puppy.

We rely on this now. But, of course, she has to be looking at us to 'hear'.

She is now a 12 year old golden with the spirit and energy of a puppy, but she hears nothing. She sleeps alot. And soundly.

What I've noticed is that we've begun to treat her differently. We ensure we wake her with a gentle touch, so we don't startle her. We show our love (or dismay) through action and facial expression, rather than words. I'm sure she can read my lips. Sometimes she stares at me endlessly, looking for what? Acknowledgement, contact, recognition?

In short, we are more demonstrative. We use body language, facial expression and touch.

And, curiously enough, our concern for her has made us more aware of each other. It has become more important to show than to tell. I began to see how far away from this we had grown in our complacency. And how much I had missed it without even realizing it.

Caring for an Other's needs makes us less self-absorbed and more outwardly aware.

What worries me, is this. With so much attention and focus and obsession with texting and social networking...with the bulk of our interaction taking place with an iPod or Blackberry, will our society begin to lose its ability to read body language? Facial expression? Are we going to become touch-deficit?

What if the coming generation loses the intuitive recognition of the Other's feelings or needs? What then?


The Crow said...

You asked:
"What if the coming generation loses the intuitive recognition of the Other's feelings or needs? What then?"

We are becoming a world of just such people, but I don't know that technology is to blame. Every 1 in 95 children are born with some form of autism, the condition of disconnection, if you will.

My grandson is an 'Aspie,' an Aspergers kid. We first noticed it when he was 4 years old; he is now 17.

I found my way here from Accept All Offerings blog. I like your thoughtful way of expressing yourself, and am glad I followed your comment there back to here.


Carolynn said...

Funny how the loss of one sense will bring forward the power of another. It's an amazing testament to the gifts that animals are in our lives, to provide a space for us in which we can grow and reach out with compassion and love to make anOther feel more included and cared for.

I'm big on touch and I've realized that I'm much more aware of body language than I thought I was.

Living as a single woman until just recently, I've gone to get massages when I've felt in need of intimate human touch. It's absolutely essential to our well-being.


Nancy J. Bond said...

You've struck a chord with me, Deborah...I liken what you've asked to losing the art of letter writing because e-mail has become so easy and reliable, or the way entire generations will grow up without the family photo albums because digital media has replaced the 4x6 print. Yes, we all intend to have those prints made, but I must admit to being one who hasn't done it yet.

I love your thoughtful posts. I've featured your blog on my sidebar for the week -- I hope it's okay that I used one of your lovely photos. And I hope it brings your wonderful blog lots of visitors! :)

Nancy @ Soliloquy

Agnes said...

"Caring for an Other's needs makes us less self-absorbed and more outwardly aware." -- So true.

p/s: My first time here BTW :-) I like it here!

Kylee from Our Little Acre said...

I found you through Nancy at Soliloquy. This is a wonderful post, Deborah. Lots of food for thought. My grandma (age 95) is very hard-of-hearing and wears a hearing aid in each ear. Still, she has to be looking at us when we speak, to help her understand. Nothing will ever take the place of personal interaction.

Deborah Carr said...

Thanks Kylee - I think we often need gentle reminders of what is most valuable in the end. Expression, touch, time to spend with those we love. I sometimes try to imagine what it must be like to lose one of my senses...Now, when I hear the wind or the rain or the ocean, I appreciate it, realizing that others do not know the beauty of its melody.

Thanks for visiting!

Victoria Cummings said...

I think that the intuitive understanding our animals have is one of the greatest gifts that they give us. I love the photos of your beautiful pup. There's so much love in her eyes. She reminds me of our Pepper, who passed away last summer at 14. I only wish that dogs could live longer, since they have so much to teach us and love us in ways that no other creature does. I'm convinced that many of them are 4 legged angels.

Diane said...

Oh, you have touched on so many truths. First your attention to your dear Golden is remarkable. That's the kind of thing we did with our half deaf Australian Shepherd as well. He too would rely on watching us with such strong intent.

About social networking, you have hit the nail on the head. I think of this often. I'm already seeing the results of it, especially in the youth of today. They don't know how to deal with emotions, consequently making some very unwise decisions in their extreme reactions. They don't know how to spell, how to talk or carry on a conversation, are afraid almost of eye contact. They don't even realize any of the subtleties of body language -- what will happen as we go along? I worry about that.

Donald said...

Just taking a minute here, Deborah. Can't stay too long in front of the screen. Your post is timely. I'm big on talking about emotions and dreams: my husband isn't. He keeps telling me that talking is not the only way we can be close. And he's right. That's exactly what you're talking about. Thank you for that reminder! I trust that we will find our way through the maze of Internet socializing. Man needs contact in all its forms. It will work out. Maryse (usning hubby's google accnt)

One Woman's Journey said...

What a beautiful post and how true.
I remember a few weeks ago when picking up my granddaughter for a weekend with me - everything went so fast. I remember later telling my daughter "you did not hug me".
You share so beautifully!!!

Deborah Carr said...

Victoria - I know you are someone who deeply appreciates communication with animals.
Diane - I guess we can't fight it, so it is up to us - the adults - to ensure we take extra effort to fill in those gaps with children.
Maryse and Earnestine - how empty would life be without hugs? And not just the receiving, but the giving.

margieandkath said...

so true. when we remove all the distractions, we are definitely more attentive, to our children, our partners, and our puppies. i have six children, youngest 20 and i when we are together i will often give a yell, somebody better hug their mother. they all groan but laughingly comply, and i know it makes me happy. you have a delightful blog. thank you for your kind words yesterday on my vision and verb post.

kendalee said...

Great questions! And my immediate and intuitive response is that this might well be what's happening and that the technologies don't help. I see it with some of the people I work with and it saddens me that they are apparently oblivious to the nuances of person-to-person communications. I'm not against evolution of technology and as someone who lives thousands of miles from people I love, I am so grateful to be able to text, email, skype, blog etc. and keep in touch with them on a daily basis. I remember well the days when I would wait three weeks for a letter to travel from overseas or telephone lines that were so dodgy that the delay and echoes made having a conversation a nightmare. I just wish we could embrace the new and at the same time not leave the good of what worked before behind. I have yet to be convinced that these additional forms of communication aren't moving us in that direction though. I'm not sure I know what the answer is but I hope it doesn't fade away completely in my lifetime...

Phew, sorry - bit of a long response - but I find this fascinating :)

Rufusandco said...

Thank you Deborah for such a lovely, thought provoking post. Much to reflect on and make sure I don't just use speech to communicate- something I am too good at!

Relyn said...

Jeffrey (my husband) and I have talked about this. About how difficult it is to read tone in an email. How important it is to say the important things in person. I appreciate your thoughtful, shall we say, deep, approach to topics. I love that you make me think. I teach second grade after teaching fourth for about seven years. I have come to rally see the importance of touch and physical affection. Vital, I say. Vital.

Deborah Carr said...

Kendalee- one thing I do miss is those handwritten letters - even if they took a long time to arrive. Snail mail has become so dreary. Bills and advertisements. My one great mailbox excitement is when a box of books arrives from Chapters!

Rufusandco - me too - I find I'm much better putting my thoughts on paper than trying to voice them off the cuff.

Relyn - I so appreciate your heartfelt comments and the joy of life that you express in your own posts. You must be an absolutely wonderful teacher. You make me pause and smile. Loved your post on Sloan watching you...of so much of what we do creates patterns for little (and big) lives.

Thanks for dropping by.