‘Khalil Gibran once said that people will never understand one another unless language is reduced to seven words. What would your seven words be?’
The first thoughts that entered my head on reading the above challenge were:
What does that mean exactly?
Cussing my woeful lack of erudition and unable to look around the class for clues re what everyone else was doing, I quickly googled the quote and found this:
Turns out old Gibbie wrote this book called ‘The Prophet’ which is made up of 26 prose poems, delivered as sermons by the protagonist, a wise man called Al Mustapha who is about to set sail for his homeland after 12 years in exile on a fictional island when the people of the island ask him to share his wisdom on the big questions of life: love, family, work and death which he delivers by way of these ad hoc one liners.
Which would explain why it’s so frigging long.
I did start reading it with every intention of (a) finishing it (b) learning something from it (c) getting something useful for my post, but by the time I’d got a third of the way through it, I kinda wanted to slap the beard off of him.
Whilst The Prophet had it’s critics (noo, really?), it also had some very influential fans including John F Kennedy, Indira Gandhi and even the Beatles, but let’s face it, they were on a lot of gear at the time, and would have found meaning in a copy of the Yellow Pages had someone handed it to them mid spliff…
And even if you were happily off your tits, you’d never want to be stuck in a corner with Khalil at a party, as he’d nail you to the wall with his homilies and insights, and you’d end up slamming your cocktail stirrer in your eye in order to have an excuse to go to casualty and make good your escape….
But he MEANT WELL, lots of his insights are valuable and seven does seems to crop up quite a bit. That said, seven is a bit of a magic number overall, all tied up with spirituality, searching, reflection, work, completion and redemption.
Think about it: we have the seven virtues and seven deadly sins, the seven voyages of Sinbad and of course, the seven wonders of the world. In numerology seven represents struggle whilst in search for the truth, and there are seven colours of the rainbow.
In the bible, Job Chapter 7, he says “Is not all human life a struggle?”, and poor Detective Mills had to work through Se7en murders with grumpy old Detective Somerset before achieving an extremely unsatisfying outcome when some bloody fingered nutter handed himself in, and then finding his wife’s head in a UPS box as a final conclusion surely added insult to injury….
I mean the only one who doesn’t suffer is God himself as seven represents his perfection, sovereignty and holiness, exception being Craig David in ‘Seven Days’ where ‘he was making love by Wednesday and on Thursday and Friday and Saturday then chilled on Sunday’, the smug twat, but for the rest of us it’s all a bit of a grind….
So I guess the question is, if restricted to only being able to grunt a maximum of seven words at each other like cavemen (yes I am going to take this challenge that literally), which ones should be used in order to make our days with one another tolerable, or at least marginally fucking bearable?
Here, at long last, are my recommendations:
This has to be numero uno.
It can be used during disagreements when you want the other person/people to back off, as an introduction when meeting new people i.e. ‘We come in peace’ a la Mr Spock, and just as a general appreciation when all is calm and bright accompanied by a happy sigh. It would also be good for breaking up others who may be fighting over something, which leads me to No. 2….
In truth I’d have preferred ‘Fuck off!’ but that’s two words, and like ‘Go!’, sounds rather aggressive and final. If this strange seven worded world is populated by people like me, there would need to be at least one that will be able to facilitate a little space for one as we all need a bit of time on our own, plus a way of getting someone to fuck off if they are getting on our nerves, and ‘Peace’ guy isn’t around to calm things down.
Plus if accompanied by hand gestures, it can mean either get back or come back, so can also be quite ingratiating and welcoming.
As in try and understand how I feel/my position/what this is for/why I/we/they did this. In other words, think beyond your own feelings and try to come to peace with what was done, why is was done, and what is going on for you right now.
And before any of you accuse me of being all ‘Khalil’ after taking this piss out of him so mercilessly (had to be done 😉 ) I do think the idea of going somewhere and sitting down quietly to gather your thoughts, think about what has happened, how you might do things better or differently and, if you can, meditate and touch base with the Almighty (whichever one you use) is a good one.
Church/mass is meant to facilitate this for us.
Unfortunately for me and many others, the Catholics made it a boring, joyless duty, plus my church was lousy with sniping, carping, gossiping old hypocrites so I bucked against going as soon as I was old enough to not be scared of my parents anymore.
Now I am an old bird, I try to pray on my own regularly, either before sleep, on waking or just yelling stuff out loud to the man upstairs (doesn’t go down very well in a queue at my local Sainsburys), and I would happily gather with like minded folk in the spirit of contemplation, community, acceptance and fun were such a gathering to exist.
‘Pray’ could be used as an instruction e.g. ‘Go and pray you little shit!’, a way of letting others know you’re going off somewhere to pray, and an appeal to gather together and congregate when times are tough and people need support, or when there is something to celebrate.
Of course. Do I really have to explain this? Didn’t think so! 😉
Which doesn’t just seem to be the hardest word, it IS. Especially when you have a vast vocabulary at your fingertips and can wield words like Indiana Jones handles his whip, but even without being limited to the top seven, it always comes back to this one.
As no other word does the job it does, or benefits the sayer and the recipient quite the way ‘Sorry’ does, both for menial issues like standing on someone’s bearskin, or more major ones like deliberately being an utter shit to someone you love.
I told a lie; trusting is harder than saying you’re sorry. But it’s essential as far as building communities, letting people in, fostering love and giving people the benefit of the doubt.
For the record, I don’t trust anyone.
I think everyone is out to get me in one form or another, that my nearest and dearest wouldn’t care if I died tomorrow and would, and do, use what they know about me in order to control me to the benefit of themselves.
But I’m off my fucking rocker, and I’m learning very slowly that giving people a chance is much less frighening then believing that the whole world is against me, hardening my heart and hiding away.
So there they are; the seven words I would choose if so limited to that number.
I might even go out for dinner tonight and test them out, Dice Man style:
Waiter: ‘Good evening madam!’
Waiter: ‘Right…..’, retreating rather nervously
Friend: ‘Can I have one of your chips?’
Me: ‘Understand?’ after I’ve stabbed her in the back of the hand with my fork.
Me: ‘Sorry…..’ as the police arrive to escort me out of the restaurant, and my companion hides under the table….
Thank God for our beautiful languages and extensive vocabularies, how did we survive as a species with such limitations?
Though in some ways I think we were better off back in the stone age, despite being so limited, where we had to work harder to make our societies work, knew everyone in our community and families lived and stayed together.
And words, as we all know can be twisted and used for less than honourable means than honest communication, so a world without the press and politicians would be worth living in a cave and chewing on the arse bone of a giraffe as far as I’m concerned, so maybe Khalil Gibran does have a point.
Pass me a bearskin and a nice big club; I’m going to get dinner started…..
Trackbacks & Pingbacks
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