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'Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind'

My brother thinks I talk too much. Still, if you ask him who he'd pick first for his fantasy dodgeball team, he'll tell you, "Thressa, because she's my best friend."

The last couple weeks, I've been bombarded with the importance of communication.

Some examples have been obvious: I wrote my psychology term paper on the differences in how men and women communicate, which taught about the intertwined impact of nature, nurture and neurology.

Other instances were slightly more subtle: I spent a week trying to make my Satan in Literature essay comply with the 8-12 pages requirement, only to realize that I was incapable of making a point in less than 14.

(Behold the reason for my wordiness, as paraphrased from a Leo Rosten quote: writers write because they need to communicate, which stems from a need to share resulting from an inherent desire to be understood. The defense rests.)

Due to New Year's Revolution Number Four, I went to Montana's Maplelag ski meet last week. Yet again, I realized my realm is entirely different from that of sports, where people enjoy physical exertion and speak a foreign lingo.

For example, when a skier says he's going to "get kick," it, strangely, does not mean he wants to me strike his shin with my foot. Who knew "kick" is some sort of wax? I wouldn't know it from a bikini wax, which, in my eyes, is just another reason to stay away from all sorts.

The day got even more interesting when I was unjustly scolded for grabbing a cookie and hot cocoa from the ski lodge equivalent of a concession stand. You see, the lodge door had two signs, one which allowed "coaches and parents" to head in for some sustenance, and one which forbade "skiers" from going anywhere but the basement. Since I didn't fit into either category, I went in with my parents, and was subsequently informed I was out of line and sentenced to the basement with the ski team.

I find being mistaken for being athletic upsetting -- and even more so when it means I can't eat cookies.

As George Bernard Shaw said, "The problem with the illusion that it has been accomplished." In this case, scolder and scoldee experienced such a breakdown; he assumed I was blatantly disregarding the sign that I had decided to interpret in my favor. As Captain says in Cool Hand Luke, "What we got here is...failure to communicate."

However, communication's importance isn't only evident when it fails. Jake and I, inhabiting separate cities since my decision not to return to Moorhead this semester, are journeying into the world of long-distance relationships.

Thanks to today's myriad methods of communication -- Skype, texting, cell phones, IMing, Facebook, e-mail -- it's easier for faraway friends to stay in touch than it was a generation ago. That doesn't mean it's easy; communication becomes more key when it spans 250 miles.

However, you soon realize how delightful a good conversation can be. To quote Anne Morrow Lindbergh, "Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after."

Jake and I have learned a thing or two about phone calls that last 'til 2 in the morning because they're their own caffeine fix.

Tony Robbins summed it up best, stating that we all perceive the world differently and need to be understanding in order to communicate with others. Some people have a lot to say (any examples?), but if they don't go about it in a clear manner, the message never gets the reception it desires.

Meanings are lost, lessons aren't learned, sentiments aren't shared, and our interactions with others are at their worst. In today's terms, it's like sending a text only to realize hours later that it hasn't left your outbox.

If, by chance, you find I've relied quite heavily on other people's words to make my point this week, I've got one more for you, from monsieur Michel de Montaigne: "I quote others only in order to better express myself."

And if that's what it takes, methinks it must be worth it.

Did my message send?

Thressa Johnson graduated from Detroit Lakes High School and attends Hamline University in St. Paul.