May 5, 2010 | 09:36 am

Wednesday - You’re Fat!

I had an interesting exchange today. I ran into someone I hadn’t seen since I left Oman in November. We greeted each other, and the next thing out of his mouth was, "You’re fat!" I have been exercising and watching my diet, so the comment caught me off guard. As the conversation continued, I realized he was trying to communicate, "It looks like you’ve been working out." Good thing I held off on the comment about his mother! As I think about it, I had countless misunderstandings with people while living in Oman. The cultural and linguistic differences made precise communication difficult. Yet despite this limitation, I left with many close friends. I think we all learned to compensate by using body language and emotion to exude a willingness to be in relationship with one another.
Today’s picture depicts this phenomenon. It is one of the students we hosted posing with her new Bedouin friend. Though they did not share much of a common vocabulary, they quickly connected with each other. I always found it fascinating to see how friendships emerged from conversations so marred by seemingly insensitive and inappropriate comments. Somehow this did not get in the way, and people were able to convey clearly that they wanted to be friends.
Random thought of the day: Relationships are not only about the vocabulary we share; it is also about the non-verbal energy we give. In psychology, some say we must be fully present in each moment to become self-actualized. Maybe we need to be fully present in each relationship to become relationally-actualized.