For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen… mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this… all we need to do is make sure we keep talking
The above quotes are attributed to Stephen Hawking. They stress the importance of communication in furthering progress, both at the global level and the micro level. Societies live and die by communication. Friendships do the same.
I’ve wondered why I’ve lost so many friends over my lifetime. When I came out as transgender, most left me. For the other friendships I’ve had, others have left quietly – wondering if I noticed the draft as they closed the door on the way out. I have failed many by not speaking. I have not given others a chance to know what I need in order to remain happy and healthy and I have not let others know the value that I assign to them. Since they do not know what I need and I do not feed them with my own words, they wither and die, drying up like a flower left in the sun without water.
It wasn’t until recently when one I considered close became mute, that I realized my own role in the friendships that I’ve lost over the years. When I became the one having to mind-read another’s perceived value of me, it became all too real. I’ve remarked about my own ability to treat others as potted plants that eventually die, but ultimately it is the lack of communication that starved them. We don’t need sunlight and water as much as we need the simple voice of another – a voice that reminds us why we were friends in the first place. It doesn’t have to be like this… all we need to do is make sure we keep talking.