Friday, June 13, 2008

My Voice

(To allow those who are finding it a bit of a challenge to understand and have some comfort with my presentation of my Self to my world ... I ask those of you who are familiar with this piece, to bear with, and be patient with me as I re-present it as a means of better communicating my Self, and my motivations, to this newer, somewhat skeptical, audience. I thank you for that.)

My Voice

All I have is a voice to undo the folded lie…
We must love one another or die.
W. H. Auden (1907-73)

I needed to find My Voice. You know; the mechanism that responds to that question (common to us all) … “How do I communicate to those around me what I am feeling, what I understand to be true, what I yearn deeply for …without having them look at and listen to me as a complete FREAK.” I had already established the understanding that my Life Direction had to come from within (in response to the whispers of my own spirit) … with my compass settings to be determined by choices to benefit eternal (as opposed to temporal) accounts.

So, how does one find his or her “voice”? Where can we go to learn a way to express what we have seldom been able to whisper, even to ourselves, in moments of introspection? I had no one to go to for directions. Even if there had been a mentor figure (and who, pray tell, is so blessed) I am certain that I would have been incapable of framing the question. What does one ask? …”Excuse me, but I am in search of a voice, and wonder if you might have a recommendation?” No … the way seemed to be to listen to the voices around me … and sift out all of those incongruous to me (with an increasingly discriminating mesh) to single out that one, or combination, that comfortably sang my spirit’s song.

For my quest, I found two such Voices. They sang different parts in life’s chorus, and they produced a harmony in which I, for the first time in my life, felt freedom to express myself.

The first was (and still remains, some thirty-plus years later) a treasure who stopped me cold in my tracks with the simplicity, candor, intimacy, and unadorned caring of her voice. This is a person whose audiocassette brought me (literally) to my knees in gratitude and admiration. I know that she would, today, be embarrassed with the simplicity and unrefined quality of that early message, but it was the perfect thing for me … right there and right then in my journey. Ann Kiemel’s “Hi, I’m Ann” was, and remains, one of the most momentous discoveries of my life. From that tape and the book with the same name, I discovered the spirit with which I could speak to my world … every day …in every circumstance … with each individually unique person … and maintain the integrity of my own soul’s purpose … to heal … to encourage … to minister.

But Ann, as an attractive young woman, was not a figure who would be perceived in the same social context that I would be. Had I presented myself with the same vocal script that served her so well, I would have produced a completely different (and undoubtedly unacceptable) response. So I needed another thread, to weave with Ann’s, in the making of the fabric of my personal voice.

Then came the discovery of Leo Buscaglia, Ph.D. From Leo, I learned the art of approach … address … and retreat. The language and manner of those elements, in caring and honest combination, allow me, almost daily, and sometimes frequently in a single day, to approach complete strangers with a message of how they have touched me in some specific and enhancing way. Let me give you an example.

It was one of those “The well is dry … I have nothing more to give … please leave me alone … EVERYBODY!” days. I intentionally chose a ‘Hamburger Joint’ that did little business (due to its bad location) to minimize the chance that I would have to interact with anyone. Upon entering the place, I was encouraged to find that there was only one customer, other than myself, there. This gentleman was a rather tall, robust, elderly fellow who moved through the traffic-control maze with a slow, stooped gait that reflected the wear of the years. In the quiet of the near-empty establishment, I could not help overhearing the gentleman presenting a well-worn copy of a cartoon to the order taker. This young girl was, quite clearly, not amused (not with the cartoon, being there, doing her job, or [at that moment in time], with life in general.) The gentleman was simply standing there … waiting …hoping to make some pleasant contact in his seemingly lonely world. What he was being met with was an irritated indifference … and my heart could not stand to witness his disappointment.

My very Dear Sir,” I addressed the note written on personalized note paper (I had gone out to my car and retrieved the very nice paper to make the impression that the gesture was worthy of care),Please accept this note of thanks and appreciation for your willingness to reach out in a world that often is not ready to accept reaching out. Your generosity in offering humor touched me and made my world a better place. I feel better because of you and salute you.Then I signed the notea fellow pilgrim,” added my name, and when the man went back for his free refill of beverage, placed the note on his tray and left the restaurant.

Upon reaching my vehicle, I looked back and was instantly brought to tears of gratitude by the radiant smile and hearty salute sent to me by the man with a small note of encouragement and appreciation in his hand. We were two comrades joined in the quest to abolish indifference in our shared world. This was the expression of the “voice” given to me by Life. The intimacy learned from Ann Kiemel, expressed with the technique gleaned from Leo Buscaglia combined to give my soul its voice.

(This passage excerpted from a book in progress)

IMAGES: "His Master's Voice";; "Burger Place"; Ian Britton,


Anonymous said...

Ciao Dad, how are you these days of clouds in Italy?I'm fine now after some difficult days at work.
today i'm moody like the sky but a" want to do nothing" it is not so destroying!
I'm waiting to sign the house rent contract...I'm looking foward starting this new adventure!
i hug you tight and I'm sorry for not writing more often...

I love you


John-Michael said...

I send my "Ciao, My Darling Daughter" tied with bows and ribbons of adoring Love and Hugs. How glorious to hear your Voice on this morning (I am so happy that I have been dawdling about and not gone to the market yet [smile]).

With the power and might of the love and energy in your Spirit, I know that the clouds will be quickly blown away. And ... your FIRST HOME of your own! Such a moment of exciting joy and anticipation. I christen it with the wine of my fondest hopes and prayers for You and every moment that You reside there.

Loving Being your Dad.

aims said...

sniff sniff - Ah JM - your voice is one of gentle loving kindness that the whole world would do well to adopt and use.

Many people turn away because they are embarrassed by your openness and your ability to show love where they cannot.

Do not stop. Please.

John-Michael said...

Darling Aims, how I do wish that I could shrug off those who do choose to "turn away." But even at my ripe age, I feel as though I have failed them in my attempt to communicate. You (as always) have spoken directly to the issue. And I am gratified and encouraged by your loving acceptance and encouragement.

Loving you, Dear Friend, is just SO nice!

Suldog said...

Lovely, John-Michael. I would say "as usual", but there's little "usual" about you or your thoughts. Lucky you! Lucky us! Lucky me!

John-Michael said...

By golly, Jim Sullivan, when I am feeling about as fragile as a lamp chimney, you are a Soul that strengthens and reinforces in the most lovely of ways. I do thank You, my Dear SulDog Friend.

I do love the place, that has your name on it, in my Heart.

lime said...

how wonderful to have finally found your own voice. i think too you have continued your "voice lessons" and learned to purify it's tones.

that others do not always respond to it favorably or at all should not be interpreted as your inability to "speak or sing" but perhaps their inability or lack of desire to listen.

i can remember watching leo buscaglia on PBS and reading his books when i was in high school. he spoke to my heart and affirmed my own thoughts in ways no one else quite did. ;)

John-Michael said...

Isn't it fascinating (in light of she and I not mentioning it to each other for several years now) that Silvia (my Spirit-Daughter in Italy [1st 'commenter' on this post]) and i met through the Leo Buscaglia Forum. And we learned from that introduction that we could meet our mutual Dad/Daughter needs in each others lives. How cool is THAT?!

I do, indeed, hope that (as you said, my Darling Lime) my Voice has matured and gained an identity all my own since those early years. I do know that I relish the harmony that you and I enjoy as Friends!

I love You.

CrazyCath said...

I have seen you post this before and it is still such a heart warming tale of a man who felt understood in the world. :0)

CrazyCath said...

And I just noticed - comment moderation was off before and now on again! I see you are using those extra morning hours to play! ;0)

Hope you're still enjoying some of the freedom to play. How's the body clock?

Anonymous said...

Indifference kills relationships & wounds all it touches. I'm so happy to hear your voice John-Michael sing out from all the emptiness around me.

CrazyCath said...

Thanks for the comment at mine. You keep on climbing too huh? [smile]

I don't know if I have commented here or not - think I have actually - darn moderation! I can't tell until you publish and my memory plays tricks on me! (Getting old...)

Ruth W. said...

Be safe, be well my friend. I do care about you.

Just Joni said...

...and a "voice" I treasure indeed, simply because it is uniquely yours...and isn't it funny that I've never actually HEARD it...and yet it comes through unconditionally clear.

hugs to you my dear friend~

John-Michael said...

Good morning, to You, CathDaughter. I am glad that this piece of work is significant enough to bring it to your recall. That is a nice compliment. And, yes, I have tried the 'moderation' again. But find it too confining ... so have switched it 'off' again (was trying to eliminate some 'confusing' comments that diffused the message of a post.)

The "body clock" is beginning to appreciate the state of unemployment ... but, alas, "playing" is yet to be realized.

Hoping that all of the loving support of your many Friends is lifting You above your fray ...

John-Michael said...

How I do hope, my Anonymous Friend, that many of us, who feel as You have indicated that You do, can unite our Voices in a harmony that will serenade the world that hears us.

Lovingly ...

John-Michael said...

Such a lovely "toast" to living! I thank You, Ruth, my Gracious Friend, for that. Your Voice is always so sweet to my Spirit's ear.

Lovingly ...

John-Michael said...

Ahhhh ... Joni, sweetest of Treasures to my Heart, how warm and soothing it is to know a harmony with You. Your Voice has ALWAYS been one of gentle, loving, and serene splendor to my Soul. And I do, so, enjoy wrapping my senses in your generous care.

I love you.

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