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Lost In Translating

I might be a master at simultaneously translating. You might be every bit as masterful, too. Meaning-making and sense-making seem to demand no less from each of us. A difficulty emerges, though, because I’m rarely very aware of the substitutions I’m so seamlessly making. I don’t suffer from this perfectly human form of mindlessness, and even when I find myself suffering, I almost never understand that I’m the source. I could, in a more perfect world, always choose to translate in ways that would delight me, but I don’t often even catch myself translating.

So, my month-long challenge to catch myself translating whenever I encounter the ‘L’ word, what I’ve quite deliberately chosen to translate into ‘leaversmith,’ has rendered me a tiny bit more mindful. Of course, my newly-hatched mindfulness feels slightly crazy, like a more deliberate form of mindlessness, but I could claim the same effect from any habit-breaking practice.

Awareness seems to be the necessary precursor to changing any behavior, but that doesn’t say much. Awareness doesn’t seem to be a commodity, something I can stockpile until needed. Each time, I find myself having to chisel an awareness from some new and unlikely stone. That stone might be acceptance compressed into habit through use. I don’t choose to engage in any habitual action. I might have chosen once upon a long-ago time, but the siphon somehow engaged then, and I repeated and repeat the behavior without even noticing. Not noticing holds no clue to how noticing might emerge.

Habits of language might be the most difficult to disrupt, especially when I’m not yet aware. With leadership (aka leaversmith), I experienced an insight into my own presuppositions about it, but that flash couldn’t hope to be adequate to shift my relationship with the word or the tangled network of presuppositions holding it stabile. So I invented a one-off synonym, Leaversmith. This seemingly silly substitution serves to chip away at that particular pebble.

I am a box of such rocks, calcified around mere practice and repetition. Mostly, these have sustained me. Or so I suspect. I have no clue how they might have been suppressing a more agile me, and probably have been smothering me. Except for those brief, rare moments when I catch a glimpse of possibility. Then, I might make some headway if I could (can?) only engage a little bit differently. Doesn’t take much. Just a touch.

And touch might be the key. Automatic engagement requires no touch cycle. Stimulus begs response until response just follows stimulus. But now, I’m intervening. I’m injecting this silly little synonym into my translating, and I’m touching some fresh insights. I doubt that any of this will render me a more effective leader, but that might be the point. I’d much rather be a more effective translator than a more effective leader anyway. So much gets lost in translating as I normally translate, that abnormally translating might make more sense. And result in better sense-making, too.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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