I have a voice

September 23, 2010 at 6:07 am Leave a comment

One of my private pleasures is to listen to the This I believe podcast on iTunes, where thoughtful women and men of all walks of life summarize their core beliefs. I wondered today, as I was listening to Edward R. Murrow expound on his personal beliefs, what I would say if someone asked me to list mine. We don’t really stop to ask each other what we hold dear, what values we cherish and why. Maybe it’s assumed that these things are meant to be private, or maybe we’re afraid of what we might hear? Here is what I would say:

I believe that we each are gifted with a voice and the ability to use it. Our voice is as unique as a fingerprint and yet when we share it with others, we can create the most beautiful harmonies – if we dare. Many of us never learn to develop our voices. Like any muscle, it can whither and ultimately die if we don’t nurture it, practice using it and mould it into something beautiful.

As a child, I sank into a severe depression that accompanied me throughout my adolescence and into my twenties. One consequence of my depression was that I did not learn to trust my own voice. Instead, I hid it deeply, afraid that if I spoke up about how I felt, and who I was, others would consider me bad or worse, evil. This fear wasn’t based in reality but it felt real and that was all that mattered. When the wall of depression finally began to crack in my late twenties and the voice leaked out, it was angry and ugly, even to me. I had to learn to wield it properly, like a finely-tuned weapon or musical instrument. I needed practice.

At first my voice spat out only false notes and debris. To some it seemed incomprehensible. Even I sometimes didn’t know what to make of it. But eventually the anger that accompanies being misunderstood subsided and I realized that my voice had power. I could choose to use it to hurt myself or others, or I could use it to build hope. It’s so easy in our society to be angry, bitter, lost, and disappointed. Many voices cry out this message – and we need them to. Only if we are willing to listen can we begin to change the world for the better. But we need more kinds of voices. A symphony is made up of many notes.

My voice, well, I want to use it differently. I want to use it to build things, ideas, stories, myths. That is why I write. That is why I dream.

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Entry filed under: Mental Health.

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