you took the words right out of my mouth…


This sentence is engraved on a chair on Kitsalano Beach in Vancouver.  I was captured by this sentence and the imagery it invoked in me.  I asked the person who was with me what she thought and their interpretation was in a totally different realm than mine. So I’m interested to know what others think this means. My thoughts follow the page break. Please share your own.

My question is what imagery or interpretation do you get out of this sentence?

The person was with me this night said she thought it meant that there was something sudden and tragic that had happened and the women had to get out of there urgently or perhaps she had died.  This did seem to accord with her own personal experiences and views gleaned through snippets of what she said.  I would have looked at it thousands of times and that would have never occurred to me.  For me it indicated that it was a wonderful and extremely memorable and significant moment and although he could remember the details of the situation well he didn’t pay enough attention to the important and meaningful message she was trying to impart.  The words we say have as much or more import than the surroundings we are in, though our memories are more adept at remembering the physical details rather than the meat of our conversation.  We can sketch a rough draft of the overall theme of what was discussed but we are often hard pressed to fill in the details unless they are extremely significant.  We often don’t realize how significant they are until long after the moment has passed, though occasionally we do realize it in the moment.  This might have been reflected in that meaning for me because this night for me was perfection in every way and extremely memorable.  I was feeling very peaceful and blissful.  Though I can remember every detail of our walk, dinner and what she looked like I don’t remember exactly what she said about this picture either.  So it does mirror what I thought the picture meant anyway.  Though I do remember many of the subjects we discussed and exactly what made each of us laugh, but laughter is always a significant moment of sharing to me.

This shows to me why communication can be so fraught with misinterpretations.  We can all look at the same sentence, concept or idea and get something totally different out of it.  Now we may come close to agreeing with the same conclusion with another but it is still always a completely individual interpretation.  That is because we bring our own experiences, biases, prejudices, morals and values to our interpretation and those will never be the same as other person experiences.  Therefore to me it begs the question if we can ever really know what someone else truly thinks about us or feels for us.  We can still bridge the gap and get the understanding of their thoughts and feelings, but there is a huge element of trust and faith there that what we interpret is exactly what they mean.  We often take it to be what we want it to be, and not necessarily just as it is.  Even if they describe their thoughts or feelings we are going to interpret it through our own lens and our interpretation could be much different than the intention.  Though I suppose as long as it is meaningful for us and we get in the same ballpark then all can be good, otherwise we wouldn’t have much hope with communicating with each other.  Not to mention that actions and deeds follow what we say and there are the myriad non-verbal parts of speech and interaction that add to the meaning of what we say.

The other thing this makes me consider is that poetry, songs or writing will mean something much different to the writer and composer than they will to everyone else.  For everyone who reads or hears that piece will have their own personal interpretation.  No matter how well written it is you may never get your message across exactly as you intend it.  In fact people may interpret it as a complete antithesis to what you intended.  The good outcome of this is that each may get something special out of it anyway as it touches a chord, memory, or feeling deep within them.  Ultimately that is the point of writing, we would like to think it is to convey our own message, but it is really about the perception and interpretation of others.  You may say something completely innocuous in your view and that sentence or utterance may have a profound impact on someone else.  So the message has a different importance to the writer and the reader, and you can never really tell what meaning the message will invoke in any other.  When I read I find that I don’t often think of the author’s intent per se, rather I just see where the words, sentences and ideas fit in my own world and philosophies.  Conversely when I read a letter or something written personally for me my mind goes more to the intent and meaning the author is trying to impart.  So there is even context in what type of writing we are experiencing as to what lens we will examine it through.

The thoughts of some others:

Someone coming to terms with the end of a relationship. – TB

To me I symbolizes how much greater actions are then words. Someone can so many things to you; say all the right things, with the right words and make you feel absolutely amazing. Beautifully spoken words but they mean nothing and are easily forgotten unless your actions back them up. He remembered everything she did because it had an impact but he couldn’t remember the empty beautiful words she said. – TS

it reminds me of a very close friend who had a horrific aneurism that blew part of his brain to pieces….his speech centre was destroyed. English was not his first language. He told me in very broken english how he was so sad , we could not have our conversations , he could not remember the words. He was not the man he used to be , he said he had forgotten so many things but that he never forgot I was always his favourite.   I forgot to mention his english was spoken beautifully , I always remembered this. More so remember the times together, it is the times when words were never spoken that spoke volumes…  – LO


One thought on “you took the words right out of my mouth…

  1. This reminds me of something Maya Angelou said, along the lines of; a person might not remember what you said or what you did but they will always remember the way you made them feel.

    The meaning and value of life is about the feelings, beliefs and dreams you experience and invoke in others.

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