In Ethiopia, I lived with a local family of four women. That was probably the first time in my life I was hit with the thought: it sucks to not understand what someone is saying.
Sometimes it’s funny. Like the time we were trying to have a dinner conversation and all I could understand was something about chickens jumping off a cliff. I tried very hard to make sense of the story, but there was simply no way I could figure out what really happened to those apparently suicidal poultry.
Sometimes it’s very distressing. Like when I was desperate to find out where the buckets of water in the house came from because showering once a week was not doing wonders for my scent. (It was four months before I found out about the tap in the garden.)
At the beginning, I was dying to understand the meaning of the sounds everybody made. But gradually, as I made a home in the unfamiliarity, I started to fall in love with the joy of not understanding.
It’s a wonderful thing to know what someone is saying. But in the village outside of Addis Ababa, I began to feel it may be even more wonderful not to have a clue what someone is saying. Because then, you’re free to notice everything else. Like someone's eye twitching when they're too excited for their own facial muscles to handle.
“I want to love you” comes from the enchantment of incomprehension. For me, the song is about a person reaching out beyond her ability to speak or understand. As the title suggests, this girl wants to love you, but with more than any language. This is the story of a girl who is overwhelmed by a world of words and sounds, but ultimately just wants the most basic thing.
The you of my life has always been my God. It scares me to try to love Him, because there's just so much I don't understand. But even though it may take a lifetime for me to figure out the way to love Him as I want to, at least for now I know with all my soul, I want to.
I especially enjoy performing this song to people who may not understand either the English or the Mandarin; since Ethiopia I've always felt a lot of magic is lost when everything is totally understood.