Josh of Few Words
Fourteen year old Josh Arnold lives in the two story Tudor cottage on the banks of the Clover River. He is an honor’s student at Cloverdale Middle School. He has a keen mind but struggles with his self concept and identity awareness.
One day, while enjoying a sack lunch outside the school’s commons, Josh watched and listened to a conversation between other students his age.
“That show was so tight,” one of them said referring to a movie they’d seen the night before at the Grand Theater.
“Oh, man it was sick. Dude what about when that dude’s head split open!”
“No, that wasn’t the best part. It’s when that slayer dude broke through the bedroom door and went all medieval on that babysitter. It was blood, guts and hair everywhere. It was so sick.....”
Josh was struck by the meaningless nature of the conversation. They were each expressing thoughts but, in Josh’s opinion, their conversation was a waste of the calories burned to express the words. It was just a menagerie of words passed between two people. Josh changed his focus to a gaggle of girls standing near the exit door. They were discussing something one of the cool boys said that upset one of their members. They illustrated their words with contorted facial expressions and the abundant tossing of hair.
Josh spent the rest of the day focused on everything everyone said around him. He listened to every word spoken within ear shot. By the end of the day Josh calculated that 70% of everything he heard was meaningless. It was all various collections of vocabulary strung together to occupy dead air between people. He reasoned that silence was the vacuum people used words to fill. This urge to babble seemed natural to everyone. Almost driven by genetic coding.
That day Josh decided to reduce his vocal emissions. His days of darkening the sky with his lung’s excrement were over. If he spoke it would be to express true feelings and thoughts that were pertinent to the situation. There would be no filler talk or the useless overuse of language. He would try living simply with few words. He wanted to declutter his vocabulary.
Since then Josh hasn’t spoken much. His parents worry. He talks to them but the conversations are curt and pointed. His sentences are fuel efficient. Instead of saying
“Mom I’m going to the park to hang out.” Josh will say “Park” Then he will tap his watch and say “When?” A cue to his mother to state the time he is expected home for supper. Many translate his lack of vocabulary substance as rudeness, but those of us who know him understand it isn’t rudeness. Josh is just a young man who thinks too much. We are all sure he will grow up to be the nation’s top efficiency expert.
Perhaps one day Josh will grow out of this phases and find something else to occupy his overwhelming drive for simplicity in thought, deed and possessions - but until then people must adapt and appreciate Josh's talent of expression on a budget.