Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Listening occurs on many levels.

Not all our speech originates in the cerebral cortex. When we speak before thinking, we are reacting. Reactions begin in the same section of the brain as Fight or Flight--the brain stem.

Fear instigates a lot of different emotions. When we up our speech volume, shorten our sentence length to spits of words, we may be reacting. Probably over-reacting. We may communicate what we think we are saying, but to hear us, the listener must dodge our aggression.

Our first congregation drew blood at the annual budget meeting. When we attended our first congregational meeting at our second church, I swallowed an Excedrin for fortification. When we adjourned for coffee after forty-five congenial minutes, I expressed my amazement. My new friends couldn’t understand why people would treat each other with bloody disrespect.

Harry learned early in life that when he shouted, people stopped disagreeing with him. Cessation was not to be confused with getting his way, but that was his perceived success. As a member of our congregation we learned early in our acquaintance that when Harry began to raise the decibels, we needed to respond so he had a place to go besides out the door. His wife was no longer so generous. Her body language led me to believe that at the end of the day, hollering Harry lay by himself on his side of the bed.

It took me a bit to understand that the profanity Dementia speaks explodes from the brain stem through the dead spaces in the cerebral cortex. The controls are gone. Interesting to consider that the vocabulary we can now control will be there if we develop a form of dementia.

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