The first time I came to Shreveport rather than through Shreveport, I exited I-20 onto 49 and saw a sign which read
“Korean War Veteran Memorial”
This perplexed me because I truly had no idea that Shreveport had so many patriotic Korean Americans who had fought for our country during war time.
We moved here and to my surprise I found that there was hardly a Korean population at all. I continued to pass that green sign and one day the veil was lifted: this is a memorial to those who served in the Korean War rather than a memorial to Korean Americans who served in the military. What escaped me at first blush eventually came to light.
I would blame my slothful cognition on a childhood with too many diving board accidents. But as any comic with nuanced material (not that I claim such) will attest, some people just don’t get it. Some immediately see where things are headed and because of familiarity with a topic or merely a predictive wit, they are the first to bust out laughing. Yet, there are others who take a while for things to sink in. We can all be mentally shrouded, just about different things.
For children just learning to read, signs can be just as vexing. My friend Stacy used to think that a store’s sign advertising “Carpets” sold animals specifically for motor vehicles. Imagine her disappointment when her parents took her shopping for new living room shag.
Misunderstanding impacts our relationships as well. Texting: the short, less personal cousin to actual conversation has forever changed human communication. Ideas once requiring physical presence to be conveyed, ideas such as BRB and TBT can now be sent via text message ASAP. Misunderstanding is now easier than ever thanks to these message-sending hand sandwiches.
Case in point; I was conveying vital spiritual encouragement to a friend. It was in video form and involved squirrel massage. Literally this fully relaxed squirrel on its back was getting what appeared to be a professional massage. You could see the relaxation overtake this little bugger when the massage therapist dig into his face, moving cheeks in circular motion. My favorite part was the end when both of the squirrels forepaws were clenched around forefingers and the masseuse let them go to snap out of it just like on a human being.
An hour later, I thought of my friend and since it was Tuesday, I wondered if she was going to watch NBC’s hit television series, This is Us. Even though she had not replied to my amazing video, I faux-pasedly (fo-passedly) double texted with the message:
“This is us tonight?”
A while later, I glanced at my phone and was horrified. It looked as though I was suggesting massaging her face that evening.
I IMMEDIATELY clarified;
I was asking about The SHOW This is Us THE SHOW. Are you watching it tonight? Nothing related to squirrel massage. I promise!
Luckily she understood but that moment reminded me of the truth that we see things not as they are but rather as we are. My Father always reminded me that if people perceived that you offended them then it doesn’t matter if you did anything worthy of their offense. They were still offended. As an classic study in the ENFJ personality type, he sought consensus, had incredible people skills and worked passionately to avoid and correct misunderstanding.
May the beautifully rare virtue of humility season our conversation with others and ourselves as we move in this time and space today. And if you see a veteran of any nationality from any conflict, be sure to memorialize them.