Another example. I am in Roosters, the school cafe. Again I’m without the void creating protection of my music and am surrounded by conversation I can understand. Two Asian ladies sit on the couch in front of me and begin to talk in words that mean nothing to me. Automatically I sigh angrily and pop my skull-candy buds in my ear, calming my irritation with Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir. (I am a traveler of both time and space, to be where I have been. To sit with elders of the gentle race, this world has seldom seen. God how I wish popular music was still THIS good…)
I also generally don’t care if these people know English or not. I actually am a great fan of multiculturalism and enjoy hearing other languages. I normally think it interesting and beautiful. It’s amazing how humanity was able to create so many different forms of language; it speaks about the necessity of communication. Out of desperation each ancient culture developed sounds that made sense, and eventually a pattern and structure was created. Some patterns died, others thrive and survive to this day.
So why do I always get so irritated?
It dawned on me, just moments ago, that it’s precisely the reason because I can’t understand. The English conversations that flow and ebb around me I can ignore. I’m used to it. And you can fade out anything that you’ve heard before. Hence why I never listen to my parent’s abundant yet cyclical lectures that drone on and on about the same one thing said in a thousand ways: we’re guilt-tripping you Stephanie. But that’s a story for another day.
The language, the words, the sounds, it is so different that my accursed curious nature is forced to tune in and try to understand. And when I don’t, I get irritated. But it is with myself. Not only does this distract me from whatever school assignment I’m trying to do (or more likely what procrastination activity I’ve taken up) it brings to doubt self-happiness.
The solution to this I suppose is to learn the language myself. But then, wouldn’t that take away from the beauty of having all these different languages? I can understand learning Italian (my family’s native tongue) or any other Latin based language, but the word patterns of the rest of the world is such a beautiful mystery. Perhaps I am strange in this way. It seems as though I’m whining about my irritation for no reason because I’m not going to do anything to solve it. Wrong. This is what I’ve decided to do. The next time a foreign conversation intrudes on my conversation I’m going to listen in. Very subtly I’ll lean in and perk my ear in their direction, but only for a few moments. When I’m done appreciating the strange yet beautiful difference, I’ll lose myself with Led Zeppelin.