When I was a kid, I used to have the same bad dream once in awhile. A ‘scary’ man all dressed in black with a hat and mask – a stereotypical ‘bad guy’ you might see on TV or on a cartoon – would be hiding in the bushes right outside the front door of our house (or apartment building, where I spent my first nine years). I’d try to warn people but nobody seemed to care. My parents, neighbors, friends and family would either just look at me blankly or shrug off the ‘danger.’ They weren’t listening to, or understanding, me.
I realized later that the scary, lonely part was not so much about seeing the robber, it was about not being heard.
And I’ve come to realize, more and more, that maybe the most important thing you can do for someone else is take the time and care to listen to, and understand, them. Give them their ‘voice’ by lending your ear.
I know that means everything to me.
It’s not just about conversations. For me, writing has always been the easiest, most satisfying way to express myself. And I’m so moved and flattered when anyone takes the time to read what I’ve written … and even tells me what they felt about it. Writing this blog has been a dream come true for me – giving me a voice I didn’t even know I was yearning for, about so many things I seem to want to say!
A big part of the magic is the two-way street. Every voice needs a listener, every writer needs a reader.
Music and literature are massive outlets for me … and I love the idea of playing those different roles in those realms. Endlessly listening to all kinds of music and also playing the piano (and, for a time, guitar). Reading all kinds of books, then writing down what I want to say. Listening to singers and constantly singing too (mostly to myself or my cats, but still …) Constantly learning and growing from others’ creativity, and hopefully feeding my own. Tuning into the idea that being ‘creative’ comes from the verb ‘creating’ – how cool is that? We can all literally create our own realities, to one extent or another.
We read an awesome novella in book club last year called The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. That little book was really the inspiration for this blog. It’s about a queen who wants to get out of her ‘Ivory tower’ and become more in touch with the world and people around her. Play a more active role in life. And after becoming an avid reader, she looks to writing to find her voice.
In a typically funny, but deep, scene, she is lamenting to her duke companion a recent epiphany that she ‘has no voice.’ To which the duke says, ‘Sore throat, is it?’ Which, of course, isn’t the point at all. Like in my childhood dream, she’s yearning to be heard, understood and, in her case, remembered. And like in my adult life, she’s finding a path through writing.
Another amazing insight I loved from the book is: ‘You don’t put your life into your books. You find it there.’
Just last month we read another book I absolutely loved, called The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg. That one, interestingly, also hits on this theme at one point, when the main character is more than happy to be the ‘reader’. He says something to the effect that: ‘What would writers be without readers. We need both.’
In short, thanks for giving me a voice here. And thanks for sharing yours with me. Every time someone sends me a comment, I feel like the singers on the show The Voice might feel when someone turns around their chair!
NEXT UP: Watch for my second guest blogger – coworker/friend Kellie K. Hope you enjoy her insights as much as I do. After that, a sequel to this blog called – wait for it! – The Voice (not the TV show), part 2!