Things I learn from my job, part 358.2

No image in the post today. In truth, it won’t be a long one, but just something I wanted to share. People often wonder how I can interpret certain things that I’m booked to do without losing my mind. In a lot of ways, I do still lose my mind, you just don’t see it.

I’ve compared this before to the ‘Confessor’s face’ that author Terry Goodkind created for his character, Kahlan Amnell, in the Sword of Truth fantasy series. Confessors are women that are born into a magical sisterhood and have the ability to discern truth from lies (by basically taking over the mind of the person and leaving them a slave to the Confessor, but that’s beside the point here). From Temple of the Winds:

Kahlan was wearing her Confessor’s face: the blank expression that showed none of her feelings.

We are taught as interpreters to do this – to an extent. We are conveying communication and by necessity that involves emotion, so I am never that ‘blank,’ but it is not MY emotion you are seeing. It should never be my emotion.

I periodically discover things that I can’t interpret, mostly due to lack of knowledge of the subject matter, but occasionally because my confessor’s face cracks in the face of the topic and I can’t continue to be impartial. One of those topics has resurfaced again: guns and gun control. I’m not going to debate that here, mainly because the debate is only the catalyst for this post, but also because my mind is made up on that issue and won’t be changed.

When I was in high school I was threatened with a gun on two separate occasions. I have fired two guns in my life, both at a gun range. I lost a friend in the Virginia Tech incident. So while interpreting recently when the topic came up I readied myself. Unlike another incident over the summer last year (that I can’t say more about than that because CONFIDENTIALITY) where I legitimately became too distressed to continue working (after a direct reference to Virginia Tech), I could continue working – but I’m sure it was obvious how I felt about what I was interpreting, and that is not okay. My confessor’s face fell away, and all that was left was my own face, filled with the emotion that this sort of topic sparks in me. I was told once that I have a million facial expressions – an occupational hazard when your second language uses the face for grammar as well as intonation – and I’m sure that at least five hundred thousand of them were on display.

So, yeah, I can mark that one off of my Can Be Interpreted Safely list and add it to the I Need to Work on That list. Ugh. But the small, quiet voice in my soul says it is okay, because I’m being honest with and about myself, and that will ultimately make me better at what I do.

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