The blessing of tongues

Three voices bounce off each other, resonating up the stairwell. Two guys and a woman are speaking in Japanese, balancing lunch trays and exchanging jokes on their way to or from the break room. Languages surround you: as you blow on your microwaved soup, as you wait for the bus, as you move your whites from the washer to the dryer. The many tongues remind you that you don’t know everything, that other ways exist. That speech is a musical and percussive tool of consciousness, rather than consciousness itself. That the stilted English you hear on the phone is the echo of a deep, full mind, its richness filtered through the coarse sieve of translation. You live in a world of six point seven billion teasing, griping, flirting, exulting aliens, of whom you are one, with whom you are kin.