Yesterday I had a riding lesson. Riding lessons are one of the extravagances I give to myself; a twice-monthly gift to me. I look forward to each moment I spend at Blue Meadow Farm in the company of Bentley and my instructor Yolanda. Riding frees my mind. When I’m riding I think about riding and nothing else. My whole being is focused on the amazing creature patiently allowing me to make mistakes as I learn dressage commands he has known for years.
Riding is a physical and mental challenge but more than that riding is teaching me about communication, a subject near and dear to my heart. Riding is teaching me to communicate in ways that I never thought possible. Subtle movements of my hands and legs, changes in weight, and even changes in my intentions are all communicated to the horse in ways that I am still trying to master. The added bonus to mastering these skills is an even deeper appreciation for and connection to the horses.
As long as I can remember I have loved horses. Between the ages of seven and twenty I was sure that a career in veterinary medicine was in my future. My career took a turn and my other love (writing) won the day, but animals will always be a part of my life, and now horses and riding are helping me become a better writer.
Some parts of communication are so subtle that we take them for granted until they are taken away. For example, intonation of your voice and facial expressions can change the simple sentence “Oh really?” from an expression of excited interested, to one of disbelief or sarcasm. The lack of intonation and facial expressions in e-mail led to the creation of emoticons to help readers and writers communicate more effectivly. However, these emoticons only function because our culture has agreed upon a common meaning for the symbols. As a writer I am constantly challenged to show the emotion and meaning of dialogue without having to spell out every facial expression and tone of voice.
What if you met someone from a culture that was so foreign to you that you lost all of your common methods of communciation (perhaps an alien culture). You don’t share a language. You don’t share an understanding of each other’s culture and body language. Imagine your interaction. Would the results be commical as you both try your best to communicate? Would it lead to a mis-understanding or conflict? How would you go about building a basis for communication? Aim to write 300 words on this topic.
If you need further guidance consider that you have both need, a source of water for example. You can not give it up without risking their life, and they may have an equally important reason for needing the resource. How would you communicate your needs?