PARALYSIS OF THE TONGUE


Awkward, pensive moments… you are with someone important. You are in a setting where you want to talk with them and are not sure what to say.

A few years ago I stood alongside the stage at Hart Plaza in Detroit. My friend Ryan Richardson and I had just heard the gospel singer Russ Taff sing a few songs at a festival. We walked up and said hello and expressed appreciation.

And then, my tongue had a stroke and lay paralyzed in my mouth. What could I say to Russ Taff that he hadn’t heard before? I owned and listened to many of his solo recordings. His music was part of the soundtrack of my life. I felt as if I knew him through his music. Now I felt like a geeky kid in grade eight going on his first date. What was with that? We sometimes find ourselves wanting to communicate, but unsure of ourselves.

How many words never leave your cranium? Some people’s heads may explode if they don’t soon say something to relieve the pressure. I understand the quiet ones. They don’t like to post on Facebook either.

I see some who jump into conversation effortlessly as if the whole world were their best friend and cared deeply about the flow of words coming from their mouth. After a few minutes, I catch myself looking into their face and nodding in agreement. Even though my ears have gone deaf and my eyes are glazing over, I pretend to be interested. I like to think that everyone’s important, but my own needs are winning in this moment. Mister Oblivious continues to talk until he sounds like the adults on a Peanuts cartoon. Wah-wah-wah…

Come to think of it, I’ve noticed people sometimes giving me that nod and knowing look. It’s a great face they make before falling asleep during a sermon.

In a world filled with voices, communication is very important to us. Not that everyone wants to open up… sometimes we like to keep things to ourselves. But, even hermits may feel the need to talk to themselves.

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