I often find myself staring at my puppy willing for her to talk to me. I imagine her to have a soft Irish accent, like her dad, and to sound ridiculously excited about EVERYTHING. When she is crying I am desperate for her to tell me what is wrong and there is a part of me that is incredibly sad for her that she is unable to relay any of her emotions to me.
The ability to speak is something that us humans seriously take for granted. We think nothing of it, from childhood we are taught to talk and as we grow so does our vocabulary. We talk to each other, we talk to our pets, we talk to ourselves. We think nothing off it.
And our words can do some wonderful things. Everything that happens in our lives, happens because of speechThe lady at the checkout till gives you a bag because you've asked for one, you are able to be treated by a doctor because you can describe your symptoms and you make friends through talking with people and finding common interests.
Yet so often we find ourselves using our powers for bad. Where we could them for good, great, wonderful things, like telling people that we love them, giving compliments and offering solutions, instead we find ourselves making snide remarks, passing comments, and sometimes being downright mean.
Simply because we are not thinking about it.
The miracle of texting and emails mean that, assuming you've not had too much to drink, you can look through what you've said before you send it. You can be sure that there is nothing in your message that could be misinterpreted or taken the wrong way. You can type something and then delete it.
With speech we haven't got that luxury, when something is out there, it is out there.
There are things that I find myself saying that I regret almost instantly. When I'm tired at night and all I want to do is sleep I will sometimes say things to Alex that I know will hurt him, we end up fighting and really all I want is to be able to suck up the initial comment.
In turn I have had things said to me that I can't un-hear, by people who meant nothing by them. Usually this happens with Alex, he will perhaps make reference to something to do with food or exercise, that he meant nothing by, which I will totally misinterpret and take to heart. I will hear his words next time I go for a chocolate bar.
Probably no bad thing to be honest, but sometimes it can be much more serious.
I will never forget being told by a boy when I was 9 years old that I had a really big forehead, I have forever been self conscious about that. I remember someone telling me that my favourite jumper made me look 'blokey' and I never again wore it, but the thing that sticks with me more than anything were the words said to me by a total stranger one night about five years ago.
I had been on holiday with my family and we were out for dinner, there were two different tables, one for the 'young' and one for the 'old'. I went over to my mum to tell her that I had a headache and that I was feeling a bit miserable. Before she had a chance to reply though, the man opposite leant across the table, unprompted and said: 'Don't worry, my daughter used to look just like you but she's thin now and much happier.'
I don't know where this came from and I don't know why he said it. Of course, aged 16 I was self-conscious enough as it was but in total denial about my figure. And then this man, this horrible, horrible man decided, just because he could, to tell me that yes I was fat, but that I didn't need to worry because one day I'd be thin and happy like his daughter. (his model daughter FYI).
There is no way that he will remember having made that comment. For him, that was just one conversation that he had on one holiday one time. But for me, that absolutely broke my heart.
This man probably didn't even mean to be cruel, he just didn't think.
And that's the problem. Sometimes, we just don't think.
So please, next time you go to say something, think before you do. Our words, in the right hands, are totally amazing things, but used wrong they have the power to hurt more than we know.
Don't let yourself be the person that causes pain, never ever be that person.
And please, please never forget the golden rule: Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.