Sunday, May 9, 2010

Raising Your Voice

You grew up listening to, learning from, and being conditioned by voices. Not all these voices were in your head. More to your fortune, you were able to distinguish which of those voices were in your head and which weren't. The unfortunate elements of the equation appeared when you began to question those voices, internal and external.

You floundered for a time, swamped by the agenda and diversity of the internal and external voices, reaching temporary relief as you began to chose which of these to heed, which to ignore completely, and which to challenge.

One such voice you did heed spoke to the decision of what to do with your life, including suggestions for specific behavior and philosophical approaches. Like some of the ancient seafarers who in their crude craft pushed beyond the point where land was in sight, you were often out beyond your ability to navigate. In retrospect, you recognize how easy it was to listen to voices that sounded authoritative--and some of them probably were--rather than taking the time, risk, and energy to educate your own to serve as your pole star.

Raising your own voice is often a last-ditch effort, something embarked upon with a frustration undershot with anger and general helplessness, emerging long after you have considered the more basic elements of your craft such as plot, character, scene, and dialogue.

By its very nature, life presents us all with a clamor of voices, many of them from family and loved ones, many among these clamoring out of professed love and concern. Even among these, however, are voices that are best left unheeded; they are the existential equivalents of those Sirens who lured Odysseus's sailors to a distraction of doom. You often are forced to navigate through foggy terrain, relying on the sonar blips of your own voice calling out for a sounding in the existential night. Thus it pays to have a voice you recognize.

It is and will continue to be a great error in navigation were you to confuse the confidence and certainty of your own voice with the hubris of someone who believes he has nothing more to learn. I am out here at night, you seem to be saying, once again out of sight of landmark, much less landfall, calling forth "I am lost" in hopes your voice will be heard.


Sarah said...

This is beautiful Shelly- I love the double play on the phrase "raising your voice"- we raise our voices to hear them above the fray, and we raise them the way we raise a child, to grow up and speak out.

Querulous Squirrel said...

We find our truest voice when we can call out "I am lost," hoping to be heard.