News and Tribune

May 16, 2013

MAY: Simply Stated

By TOM MAY
Local columnist

Nikki has learned to use lots of words to attract attention. To add clout to those words, she talks about celebrities — people in the entertainment, athletic or political spotlights. 

She bills herself as the “Psychic to the Stars.” She lives in Canada and makes most of her appearances on Canadian radio and in Canadian clubs. I suppose if you are clairvoyant you don’t need to live near the stars to make predictions about their lives.

Take a glance at some of the predictions that she claimed were to have happened last year in 2012: An earthquake in Mexico City would destroy most of the city; giant prehistoric sea monsters would be found under the ocean; a stock market crash worldwide rivaling the 1929 crash would occur; An attack on the Vatican and the Pope would take place; the Holy Grail would be found; Ellen DeGeneres would join the Army for a week; Sylvester Stallone would be nominated for a Tony Award.

Nikki placed 121 celebrities on a death watch during 2012, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Willie Nelson, Daniel Craig, Sylvester Stallone, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lindsay Lohan, Natalie Portman, Taylor Swift, David Letterman and Regis Philbin.

I assume that Stallone was nominated for the Tony Award as a sympathy gesture commemorating his passing. In briefly glancing through the lists, the only prediction on the watch that was correct was Dick Clark’s death. 

Predictions like this are fodder for talk; good for selling tabloids at the checkout aisles. The reason we don’t pay much attention to Nikki is that although she uses lots of words, most of her words just aren’t true.

In many ways, we all are a lot like Nikki. We all want people to listen to our words. We want to be noticed. We want people to pay attention. We begin to crave that attention at the earliest of ages, and deep down we never lose that yearning.

I have a granddaughter who is just weeks old. She craves attention — demands it, actually — often. The attention she desires is usually quite focused: Mommy!

Not having mastered words yet, she yells. Long. Loud. Longer. Louder. She soon has the attention of her mother, and 20 others in the apartments down the hall. As we grow older, we find more creative, more sophisticated ways to yell.

When describing his role of rallying the nation as Britain stood at the brink of World War II, Winston Churchill commented that the will of the people was strong and resolute. 

“It fell to me to express it. You must remember that I have always earned my living by my pen and by my tongue. It was a nation and race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.”

How do we make sure that people hear our words and not just the roar? If you want to simplify your life — to boil it down to the very essence of what it should be — simplify your words. Don’t use more than you need. Don’t embellish. Don’t brag. Make the words be yours, expressing the heart of who you are. Make them be true.

True words don’t have to be loud. They will grab people’s attention simply because they are so unusual.

 

— Tom May is the Minister of Discipleship at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville. He is an adjunct instructor in the Communications Department at Indiana University Southeast