Finding a Voice

Till Human Voices Wake Us

For years I’ve heard people — especially female people — talk about trying to find a voice. I was clueless: never quite sure what that meant.

Then I retired. No more up and out on Monday mornings. No more phone and e-mail huzza-huzza. No more P & L’s to stand up to the scrutiny of the Board.  I was home with little to do and no plan for life after the end of the career marathon.

So I decided to write a blog. Why not? It must be easy: everybody seems to be doing it. It’s cool.

My ego-voice suggested a second career as an ‘expert’ on something was just over the horizon.  Or maybe worldwide recognition, right “up there” with my heroes Annie Dillard, Mary Oliver, and Thomas Merton.

I had no idea what I was getting into but, true to form, that didn’t stop me. I have opinions about everything and, according to my wife, children and grandchildren, can sometimes be a little pigheaded.

I gave little thought to what I’d write about, the themes I wanted to explore, or even if anything I wrote would make sense to anyone other than the dog. What initially materialized were draft stories that were not stories, rampant incomplete thoughts and sentence fragments that found their way into the keyboard and onto the screen.  And guess what? Turns out there were lots of incoherent concepts that had no basis in reality  taking up space in my mind and therefore found their way into my word processing program.  Holy crap was I lost!  Like Israelites wandering the desert.

Then I came across this phrase by Thomas Merton: “the poet enters into himself to create.”  And while I‘m no poet it rang true enough for me to hear…a little…of what he was getting at.

It dawned on me that I needed to find— probably in my heart and not my brain— some emotional connection to what I was writing about. And, in a spasm of honesty, realized that those stirrings might include interests that could be “uncool.” It occurred to me that blogging my be different from activities used to paper over feelings and could be a way to explore my relationship to the rest of the world.

Merton said “no one can enter the river wearing the garments of collective ideas. He must feel the water on his skin and he must know that immediacy is for naked minds and for the innocent.’

Could I be at least as innocent as when I joined the workforce?   And, at that point, let my mind stand naked? Yikes!

My next step was, through meditation and solitude, to get quiet.   Turns out that when I’m quiet and in an environment that is aesthetically pleasing I’m able to feel the solitude of that moment.  And that brings stirrings that are mine to use as I please. A voice.

Whose voice is it you might ask?  I’m not sure.

But it’s clearly and irrefutably a voice that connects to my heart. That’s all I want.

My job at that point is to just hear and to heed.




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