Syntax and Nobility

Her words* struck me:

Our language is usually locked into a sentance syntax of subject/verb/direct-object. There is a subject working on an object. “I see the dog”—with this sentence structure, “I” is the center of the universe. We forget in our language structure that while “I” looks at the “the dog,” “the dog” is simultaneously looking at us. There is an exchange or interaction rather than a subject acting on an object.

We think in sentences, and the way we think is the way we see. If we think in the structure subject/verb/direct-object, then that is how we form our world….There is a self-centeredness and egocentricity built into the very structure of our language.

We are noble a profession. We get paid less, but we care more.  We want to help people. We chose this job, because we wanted to be therapists. We did not want to be physicians, even though most of us could have been. In other words, we gave up an opportunity to earn twice as much, because we care about people, not the money. In the end, we offer the patient something a physician does not: our time, a genuine therapeutic experience.

Ms. Goldberg would suggest this is time wasted, an experience marred in un-therapeutic and ritualistic syntax. She would be disappointed to discover how we “care” by poking, thrusting, and popping L2 because she has been in pain for 3 days and she has limited internal rotation in her left hip.

Rather than noble, she would see us as self-centered.  She would be right.

* From Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones


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