(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.)
“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 note “a 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"; Art.com; "Burger Place"; Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com