The Limits of Language

On Saturday, I gave Eli a burrito for lunch. He asked me to cut it up into “little pieces,” which I did. When I was done however, he started crying.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I wanted you to cut it up into little pieces!” he said.
“But I did,” I replied.
“No!” he said. “You cut it up into tiny pieces!”

I wanted to convey to him a lifetime of feeling that language, though we so often use and (over)rely on it, is so often inadequate to convey our thoughts, feelings, desires and experiences.
And thank goodness this is so, for it’s at least part of the reason we turn to dance, painting, music, film and all the other art forms – to say those things that happen in the cavernous spaces between millions of words.

For me, so much of the joy of life exists as we stand on the threshold of this mystery: to attempt to understand that which we can never understand, to know that there is so much for us to let go of, to know that we will never control or own it, and to find some way to dance with it nevertheless.

To dance, twirling like a grouse, with mystery, and to let the mystery lead.

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