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"My elementary school teachers unwittingly taught me that Nobody Can Tell Nobody Nuthin' …"

I hold the firm conviction that nobody can tell nobody nuthin'. In this case, the double negative works both ways, and I fully intend it to carry the apparently contradictory message. Part of the phrase insists that nobody can tell anyone else anything. The other, that one cannot ever fail to communicate something when trying to tell another something. Pundits persist, though, trying to convince the dedicatedly disbelieving. I believe that they fall into a shallow cognitive trap when thinking that they might hold the power to clue in others. Though their words are unlikely to be interpreted in any way they anticipate, so thick the membrane protecting people from unexpected information, they (we!) persist.

Our elementary school teachers might have taught us something, demonstrating a curious superpower whenever they'd call on us to respond to their trick question with a simple response while the whole danged class watched.
In that moment, jangled more or less alert from the in-class waking dream lecturing inevitably induces, no one could hardly remember their name under such circumstances, often responding with a wise and circumspect, "Huh?" The lecture portion of the program tended to insist upon a certain detachment, separating each student from their own thoughts by over-filling their foreground with incessant yammering. By the end of each school day, we'd be shocked to recall the subjects presented, let alone the content.

Now, of course, modern teachers dabble in teaching with their mouths firmly closed, favoring engaging participation; Project Based Learning where students more or less teach each other and themselves. This strategy underlines my conviction. If even teachers have moderated their historical role as tellers, I might be on to something. I can watch the eyes cloud over and still persist in my incessant telling, so anxious to impart what I so clearly understand that I really can't help myself. It almost never occurs to me that I'm not helping anyone else, either, while sanguinely not helping myself. I might have deigned to ask first if my mustered audience had any interest in what I so desperately wanted to tell them. That courtesy usually escapes me, too.

What's an awakening teller to do? If it's true that the purpose of anything can be discerned by merely observing the outcome it produces, a teller might learn what they were saying by checking out the result it induces. If the message doesn't seem to have penetrated the thick candy shell, the real meaning of the message might have been a lesson in deflection. If your message of peace and reconciliation echoes back as an agitated rant, you were fomenting frustrated anger, regardless of what you intended. Telling turns out to be a dicey occupation with no assurances that any message will arrive as willed. The attentive target, though, knows that no teller ever manages to avoid exchanging something in the encounter. The target always takes what they want, no need to ask permission. My elementary school teachers unwittingly taught me that Nobody Can Tell Nobody Nuthin', a lesson that has served me extraordinarily well throughout my largely clueless life so far.

One exception to this conviction exists. One can always tell another how they feel. Not how the target feels, but how the teller feels. Taking the attempted transfer out of the realm of head knowledge and into personal heart perspective can open the most remarkable channels. No need to bring out the battering ram, which hardly facilitates any kind of productive exchange, anyway. I advise, unbidden, a certain circumspection here, too. Telling the neighborhood bully that you feel like a snowflake might not end that well for the doily. Otherwise, sharing at the feeling level, even disclosing how vulnerable you feel as a clueless contributor, might produce remarkable, surprising, even delightful, perhaps even telling results.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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