I didn’t write much for yesterday’s Photo a Day topic, “beloved.” I simply chose a photograph of the people who are most beloved to me. Sometimes words are not needed to get a message across. In fact, sometimes words obscure a message. Sometimes it’s better to speak without actually speaking.
There are many times when a friend or family member needs comforting and words are meaningless, and sadness is too great for words. Instead, an arm around the shoulders, a wordless hug, a clasped hand, a proffered shoulder to cry on, a silent squeeze of the hand can all say much more than words ever could. “I’m here for you,” “I’m so sorry,” “I wish I could take the pain away,” “I want to help” are all spoken but unspoken in a simple gesture. Sometimes it is joy rather than sadness that cannot be expressed in speech. “It’s not cancer,” “I’m so happy for you,” “He’s going to make it,” “She said ‘yes’,” are sometimes better said by a gesture than by a word.
They say that “actions speak louder than words,” and that’s true, although sometimes it’s not so much that they speak louder, but that they speak more eloquently. Emotions are subtle, tricky things, and sometimes words are not sufficient to express them. And many of us who are not comfortable with expressing our emotions verbally are able to express them through a gesture or even a look. How many of us remember being a teenage girl experiencing your first heartbreak, and your dad not knowing what to say but just hugging you and letting you cry? Or coming home having failed a test that you studied so hard for, and your mom squeezing your shoulder and giving you a sympathetic look without saying a word? It’s easy to say the wrong thing, but a simple gesture of love and support is hard to screw up. Sometimes not speaking is the best way to speak.