All the Languages We Speak

In a small Tuscan hill town, I spoke fluently.

Not Italian. But that language of gesticulations and expressions people share when they don’t have common words.

In a dark and quiet civic center, I watched the Paul Taylor Dance company. And I understood fluently.

With elongated arms and rushing legs, Taylor was talking about freedom, joy, breaking open and breaking out.

In a little house converted into a little breakfast and lunch spot, I got what the cook was communicating fully.

He used thickly sliced bread, thinly sliced apple, cheddar melting over it all to say, You are cared for. Slow down. Take it in. Savor this.

We speak so many wordless languages. We can say things in them that words can’t wrap themselves around.

These languages aren’t so much something we know, but more something we feel. They take us out of the head and into the body. And one of their beauties is we can be nowhere but here, now, in this moment to communicate in them.

Here’s what I love. These unspoken languages connect us to each other. Not intellectually or ideologically, as words do so well, but viscerally, as only feelings can. Good art, a sweet rub on the arm in passing, a lovingly prepared meal, a great grin from across the sidewalk, and a thousand other wordless expressions all do the same stupendous thing: leave us a little more bonded together than we were before.

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