Communication is unique in the fact that what you intend to relay through your message, the verbal or nonverbal relay of information, may not be the meaning, or understanding the receiver interprets. Several moments in my life stand out as significant, but the following example has played the largest role in changing my attitude, values, and beliefs, otherwise known as my field of experience. On September 11th, 2001, I will never forget the context in which I found myself physically standing in an emergency vet’s office at a time of 6am, awaiting the update on my very sick pet. The distracting and interfering noises of the external interference, was overwhelming. Between doctors rushing in and out of rooms, upset clients, a blaring TV, and the cacophony of dogs and cats howling it was difficult to center myself. Previously the doctor, through a face to face channel, had mentioned my pet might not make it through, and provided options as to what we could do.
As I began my intrapersonal communication, or the process of mulling the options over in my head to generate meaning within me, the external interference of the television took over. The channel the message was delivered, the medium of television, made little difference in the message I received, or decoded. One of the World Trade Center buildings was on fire from a plane crash. Again, my intrapersonal communication took over and I began questioning in my head why someone would do such a thing. Surely the pilot could see such a massive building in front of him.
However, as I watched in horror, another plane flew into the picture and before I could look away had slammed itself into the second World Trade Center. This was no accident; this was an act of war. Almost immediately I felt a shift in my field of experience. Beliefs long held that America was a superpower and therefore untouchable came crashing down. The attitude long held of procrastination and putting off till tomorrow what could be done today took on a different hue. Suddenly I realized tomorrow isn’t promised, and the life I have today could be gone without warning. My values took an immediate turn towards appreciating that which I have today and never taking one single moment for granted.
About this time the doctor walked back into the room, and I rushed to hug him, providing nonverbal communication. In a moment such as this, it is difficult to put into verbal communication, or articulate through the use of words the immediate need that rushes into your soul of assuring yourself that you are still on this earth and the world is still spinning. The doctor was the receiver in this instance of nonverbal communication, and in turn provided me with a hug in response, or feedback. Sadly, my pet did not make it. However, as disturbing and chilling emotions evoked by watching the events of 9/11 unfold were, they served a positive purpose in my life. Every moment is precious and should not be wasted. A favorite anonymous quote I have adopted as my mantra is “yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery; today is a gift, that is why it is called the present.”