Today Nancy bought and canned half a bushel of tomatoes. Eleven quart jars are cooling on the counter for 8 dollars and time. It’s an old-fashioned thing to do. But we eat a lot of foods that use tomatoes as the main ingredient and so it makes sense. Besides, she knows how to do canning and likes the process and uses the outcome to say “I love you.”
Friday night Andrew went to a football game. Every other game in his life, he’s had to walk around the field. Friday night, he walked across the middle of the field. He’s working as a freelance reporter. He had a right and responsibility to be there. By the end of the night, he got his byline through old-fashioned reporting and writing. A bunch of high school kids who spend time online got to hand a grandmother a newspaper with their names in it, using the outcome of Andrew’s work to say, “be proud.”
Friday morning, I spent time licking envelopes. We have friends in Europe. They need financial support. We mailed out their newsletter by snail mail. They will be emailing them in the future, but this one needed to get to people who may or may not have email, who may or may not be online. Letters are arriving in houses this week saying, “Invest in signficance.”
For years I have been very aware of how many choices we have for messages. I end up paralyzed by the options at times, wanting to maximize the use of the information, wanting to balance timeliness with attention with authority with laziness. I have, I confess, often not passed on a message because I couldn’t figure out how to say it. And I spend time exploring new avenues for saying things.
What these three examples are reminding me, however, is that figuring out what needs to be said is essential. Nancy always will find a way to say, “I love you.” Whether through tomatoes or texts, the message resonates.
When we are testing microphones or cameras, we start by focusing on the technology, “Just say something.” To have significance, to change the world, to touch people, we need to turn that around.
That message you have?
“Somehow, just say it.”