Saturday, June 16, 2012

Voice of Unreason

We all hear voices.

Even if we have some serious hearing impairment that reaches beyond our ability to have the voices sent in electronically, we hear voices from earlier times.  For many of us, the voices are telling us to do things, not to do other things, recriminating with us about some past action we should have done or not done.  These voices are often those of long forgotten authority figures, by which you mean teachers from junior high school and high school, although by the time you’d moved into grade ten, the voices, even the ones offering you a measure of praise, were speaking in a monotone, thus losing their power to do much more than remind you of how bored you were during the course of those intermediate years

Some of the voices we hear are our own, reminding us that we may have gone too far in pleading for something, gone too far in our refusal to do something we found abhorrent, or gone too far in losing our temper.  When you hear the voices of others, engaging in extending the boundaries, we are made uncomfortable because of the reminded that you’ve said or done something similar, and now it is free again, wandering the hallways of your personality, a miserable ghost, looking for some way to divest its essential being, now that you’ve made the connection that you sounded that way and wish no longer to do so.

Some voices you heard were so impressive that you have only just begun to realize the speaker was influencing your future beliefs because you were programmed to listen to voices of authority figures and not say such responsive things as “Bullshit,” even though you might have felt that at the time.  Listening for anomaly or error or unacceptable attitude were not traits wired in when you came tumbling from the womb.  You had to learn.  This is a recognized part of your story arc.  You still hear voices, but now you often take them in, then engage them in some form of conversation, often verging on the less polite, waspish response that carries your resentment at having accepted the weight and veracity of the voice without question.

Some of these voices, voices clearly your own, are painful reminders of your malleability.  If a voice spoke loudly enough, you believed it not so much because you accepted its weight of accuracy but because you had no counter response.  How useful it has become for you, these days, to keep this in mind when you hear your own voice rising.  Are you using your voice, either your natural speaking voice or some culturally charged voice as a weapon?  Are you using voice as a schoolyard bullying tactic?  If your voice begins to rise to that level where it is clearly aggressive, is this a sign that you are not confident in your position?  Would you be less aggressive and more tonal were you surer of yourself?

No need to answer that; it is you, reminding you of your own contribution to the chorus of voices about you, written and spoken.

How would you like your voice to sound when your words appear on printed pages or come as some portion of lecture or conversation?  Can it stand on its own, whether the reasoned you or the bombastic you, or does it require some special effect going on in the background as a distraction?

As an angry, emerging teenager, you kept most of your combativeness to the verbal.  There were a few memorable times when you took the combativeness out of its container, set it aside when you took off your glasses—what a dramatic gesture right there—and sailed forth into combat, in one case with the class bully.  He was likely as surprised as you were, finally having to remind you to stop hitting him because it was over.  Still hitting him, you asked if he was sure.  He extended his hand, dripping with blood from where you’d caught him on the nose as his answer.

After a time, he even asked you why you’d kept hitting him, when he’d acknowledged the incident, the combat, was over.  Only then did you understand.  You were frightened to a severe degree by him, made even more fearful at the thought of what he’d do to you if you stopped.

How many verbal arguments did you pursue in that spirit?

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