Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Compliments to . . .

Fill Your Heart With Joy—
By Filling the Hearts of Others

Oio naa elealla alasse' – Ever is thy sight a joy
(Elven Language Compliment)

Compliments—we love them when expressed with sincerity. I’m not talking flattery, which often has dubious intent, and is more in line with “what can I get from you” rather than “what can I give to you.” I’ve received many, many compliments in my life, but a few stand out. My sister gave me one of the finest compliments I ever received.

Compliments on my gardens made me realize the joy they brought to others.
In turn, I received joy from those compliments.
I was speaking to her about my admiration for one of my professors at Florida Atlantic University. I shared that I heard the professor could speak Middle English and she was a Tolkien scholar. A few weeks later, during another conversation, my sister related the following: “Chris, I know you’re impressed with your professor’s language skills, but I’ve traveled through Europe and heard many languages. I watched all the Lord of the Ring movies and listened to the Elven language. However, the most beautiful language I’ve ever heard is the one you used when talking to your babies.”
That compliment still gives me chills. English major I am and editor and proofreader by trade, I make my living choosing the precise word, the exact phrase, and putting verbs and adjectives and clauses and other parts of speech too boring to name in their proper place, be it a sentence, paragraph, chapter, or entire book. I’ve stepped away from the staunch grammarian role in my personal life because it makes me seem angry and judgmental. But I always used correct grammar and “big words” with my children when they were learning to talk. Their extensive vocabularies give most people pause: “Where did that child learn to speak like that?”
But my babies? Oh, that was a whole other story. When I held those babes in my arms, I spoke silly talk. I made up words. I made up phrases. I gooed and cooed and giggled. I created rhymes and songs and names for things. If one of them called something a zany name, we kept that in our “family speak.” Little do most people know that “bargool” is garbage or that “hangrahan and makersholtz” are a hamburger and milkshake. “Molly Magoo” was a pet name for Alexa because as a toddler she most reminded me of Mr. Magoo, bumbling and stumbling through her days. Sometimes, I just laughed with my babies and spoke gibberish. Of course, this was during playtime—or Mommy and baby time. The rest of the time, I simply spoke to them the way I’d speak to anyone else, proper sentence structure and advanced vocabulary in place. Looking back, I’m happy for my gibberish time with my babes. I'm grateful that  my language gave my sister joy and that she was touched enough to give me one of the most lovely compliments I ever received.

Giving is as good as getting when it comes to compliments. I often think of giving compliments, but then I shy away from sharing that compliment out loud, especially when it regards a stranger, someone behind the counter in a retail establishment, or someone I meet in passing. Why is that? I know how kind words can brighten my day. I know that when I have given compliments, the recipient has been so pleased and that pleasure has been reflected back to me. It’s part of the holding back that is so endemic to many aspects of our culture. We may write it on a Facebook post or send a text, but the spoken word often eludes us.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Who can you compliment today? What can you say aloud—and not as a comment on a Facebook status—to brighten someone’s day, to make them feel valued, admired, cherished? Today, look for a way to compliment someone, to bring them joy. You likely will receive joy in return.

No comments:

Post a Comment