Monday 5 February 2018

#435 Mangled meanings

When I told Hetal that Friday's appointment had gone well, she said that made her happy. Happy. It seemed really bizarre to me. Happiness, according to my personal definition of the word, was something I felt roughly once or twice a quarter, for fleeting moments. It might have been slightly more than that lately but the idea that it could happen just by hearing someone say something was almost unthinkable.

It wasn't that I didn't believer her. Was it possible that I was unusually precious with the word "happy"? Yes, maybe. For some clarity on the matter, I consulted my soulmate, who reminded me that happiness was an ambiguous concept. Used to describe a multitude of feelings and observations. The same person might overuse and under use the word, even a minute of conversation.

She continued, "There are no limits for intangible concepts, so nobody can measure where happiness starts or ends and who would dare to establish such limits?" I realised how foolish I'd been. I often took very specific experiences and tried to compare them to other very different experiences simply because the same word was used to describe them. 

I ran into this problem fairly frequently. My landlord would often ask if I was up to anything exciting at the weekend for instance. It would befuddle me a bit. I couldn't recall having been up to anything exciting in months. Come to think of it, that probably due to my lack of social life rather differences of interpretation. Then there was the matter of people having different moods, which exacerbated the matter.

I decided to watch my language even more carefully in future. I didn't want to express feelings unless I actually felt them. Saying I was pleased to meet people or glad when good things happen to them. Instead, I would search my soul and if I couldn't come up with any real feelings, I'd make a more general observation instead such as "that seems like a good thing". 

One day there would be an app to translate from English to English, detecting and explaining the subtleties of word usage between people. Until then, I'd just have to muddle through and watch people really carefully whenever they said anything, then pause for several seconds before replying. So no change from usual then.


Fizzfan said...

This sounds very akin to being honest. It’s sheer madness. Don’t do it!!!

I have to say I find it quite liberating to exaggerate nice reactions, especially to very good friends. It can also become quite funny.
One of my friends (who’s female) often signs out her emails to me Big Snogs xxx
It never fails to make me smile, which of course means I have to reply with something equally ridiculous back.

My happy spectrum starts at contented, absorbed and engaged and mostly ends at laughing.
Joy and all those kinds of extreme happiness are indeed rare.

Profound Familiarity said...

Ha ha ha :)

"Big Snogs" :) :) love it.