“There’s no denying, beauty makes a sound.” -Testify, Needtobreathe
Is beauty the sound of my life?
A friend of mine spent 10 minutes trying to help me learn the small differences between two particular Spanish words. In the end we said that I’ll only figure it out through hearing them in conversation over and over and thereby gaining an ear for what “sounds right.” Language acquisition. Catching onto the correct usage of a word or phrase. I’ve been watching my toddling niece learn to speak a language through only what is caught and taught by her parents. I’m helping people learn how to speak English as their second language and I watch their minds wrestle with the complexities. And I myself am still in the middle of mastering Spanish, frequently using words incorrectly and learning some words only because I understand when they should be used, not exactly what they mean.
More than learning a language, we catch a language. Because language acquisition is much more than learning grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary – really learning to speak a new language is acquiring a whole new manner of communicating. We communicate with actions, facial expressions, gestures, sounds, and cultural customs. Effective communication is far more than correct grammar.
Language is a way of being, in the presence of others, by which information, emotions, thoughts, and ideas are communicated. We learn, through immersion and acquisition, a way of being and communicating. When I was in college, I returned home after my first semester and my mom commented that I had picked up a hand gesture of my roommate. Four months living with her and I had unknowingly picked up one of her ways of communicating, one of her ways of being. But we pick up far more than gestures, exclamations, or intonation of speech. We pick up habits, attitudes, and ways of thinking. Aware or not, purposeful or not, we are constantly acquiring ways of being: the language of our lives. We catch words of sarcasm. We pick up acts of love. Grace. Harshness. Mistrust. Mercy. We can pick up these life-languages.
We acquire these life-languages from the people who surround us, just as we acquire the spoken language in which we are immersed. We acquire life-languages through people and through what we feed our eyes and our ears, which are the mouths of our souls. What is the language of my life? Where did I acquire it? What do I want the language of my life to be? And where can I acquire it? I want to acquire gestures of kindness, words of truth, acts of love, and expressions of grace. If beauty, love, and truth are contagious, I want to be in the position to catch them. I want beauty to be the sound of my life.