A Universal Language

I am a Midwestern girl, raised in the heartland of Iowa. It’s a great place to grow up, but there isn’t a whole lot of diversity there unless you are talking about different strains of corn or soybeans. When my fellow Iowan husband and I made our first major move, we found ourselves in the middle of a very different environment. We had become residents of our nation’s capital, Washington DC, where diversity is the norm and not the exception.

It was very interesting, particularly for someone as naïve as myself, to experience all the different languages and cultures that DC encompassed. Particularly during the height of tourist season, one could be exposed to probably close to fifty different languages during the course of one day. I cherished that experience and soaked it in like a sponge. I asked questions and learned from a plethora of different people and it was obvious that I wasn’t in Iowa anymore.

I’ve heard before that the only universal word in any language is “no”. I’m not entirely sure if that is true or not. Sadly, I only speak one language fluently and have not enriched my communication abilities with the knowledge of languages other than English. However, I am convinced that there are other, more universal ways of communicating other than by the spoken or written word.

Art, I believe, is a universal language. Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that it is so subjective. One painting may contain one hundred different messages to one hundred different viewers. That is one of the many beauties of art. Interior design is just one interpretation of art, thus also part of a universal language. It is true that there are influences on design from different parts of the world, but a designer has the ability to mix many different techniques to portray his or her personality and likes and dislikes.

I recently heard on a television show that the way you decorate your home should tell a story about you. Every element you incorporate should have a special significance to you and represent a part of your life. It is as if you are creating a self-portrait of you and your family. For me, incorporating rustic furniture in my décor is a way to express the traditional Midwesterner that is at my core. I still love barns and old structures, and I demonstrate that by incorporating reclaimed barnwood furniture into my home. No matter what language a visitor to my home speaks, he or she can look at my barnwood living room set and have a good idea that I have a strong affinity for traditional values. I can only hope that even if I don’t know how to say “welcome” to my visitor in his or her language, my home décor can speak that welcome for me.

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