On Day 8 my guided journal suggests thinking about voices you love to hear. For some reason I could not identify a particular person’s voice I loved to hear. I think I was interpreting the question too narrowly. Certainly there are many situations when I love hearing the voices of my friends, family, Seal . . . 😉
But for me, what I love to hear is more general and qualitative than a particular person’s voice. I LOVE to hear my children laughing, squealing and shrieking at something funny or silly, laughing loud and heartily because they don’t care what people think about how they laugh or how they look when they are laughing. I love sharing a deep belly laugh with my friends, rolling around until tears come out of our eyes, and then laughing just because everyone else is laughing, laughing until our stomachs hurt. There’s something infectious about uninhibited laughter, that authentic joy and connection to another person.
I also love listening to my friends who speak slowly and thoughtfully, who take a moment to think about their responses. That pause is like a silent reassurance that they are listening and pondering the topic, that their responses are well-considered and not merely clever. I worked in a place with so many brilliant and clever people, where “strategy” meetings sometimes devolved into chaotic noise sessions, as everyone struggled to make themselves heard. I have a hard time trusting the news when it seems that it is dominated by sound bites rather than thoughtful and honest discussion. It was interesting to take a writing class, where each person was required to provide input into every paper, a very different dynamic, slower, sometimes repetitive and sometimes frustrating but also supportive and honest. Again, that feeling of connection and authenticity moved me.
And there is power in speaking a thought. The old SNL skit “Daily Affirmations With Stuart Smalley” makes fun of this idea, but I believe that speaking an idea can make it true. For example last year I took a few writing classes to develop my creative writing skills. I had always enjoyed writing and telling stories, and I wanted to become more serious about my writing. I mentioned my classes to a friend, who said, “wow, so you’re a writer!” And my immediate impulse was to say “Oh no, no, no, I’m just a dabbler!” or “Oh no, I’m just playing, I’m a beginner.” It seems that social impulses nudged me to be modest or to avoid staking a claim to something unusual or new or different. But for some reason, I took a second to think about it. I HAVE been writing for years, though not always in a class context, and not always creatively. I thought of this, and I took a breath, and I answered my friend, “well, yes, I AM a writer.” A strange feeling came over me when I said these words, a feeling of confidence, authenticity, truth, rightness. It was just a seed of a thought at the time. But since that time, I have tried to think of myself as a writer, and I try to think of what that means. And even though I STILL have not yet written the Great American Novel, I did start this blog 🙂
So, because I am a writer, I am toying with the idea of taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge. November is National Novel Writing Month. Writers around the world attempt to write a novel (NOT the Great American Novel, more likely the worst novel ever, so long as it exceeds 50,000 words, is written within the month of November, and does not make readers violently ill to read). There is no prize for finishing, no real glory, the work is almost certainly going to be crappy, and most likely no one will know that I did it (or didn’t do it) but me. It’s an absurd quest with no material payoff. It will not help me pay the bills or secure employment. And yet, I’m so drawn to the idea. Because it’s what writers do. Because real writers have a crappy novel hidden in their desk drawers that was written before their brilliant published works – so why not crank out the crappy piece in 30 days? Because I have a big mental block in my head about taking on big creative writing projects, and doing this would bust through the block. Is it worth the effort? We’ll see. November is right around the corner . . .
But how about you? Can you identify your dear, secret dream and just say it? I AM . . . (what is it?) Say it! Then spend some time figuring out what that looks like. What habits does a . . . tiger tamer(?) crocodile wrassler(?) have? What do they think about? What do they do in the morning? What to they eat? Where do they hang out? Who are their people? What do they do for inspiration? Write madly for 10 minutes about what a person doing your ideal job/hobby/vocation/fun thing does, what their habits are. Pick one thing you can do every day from that list. And just do it.
For me, the thing I WILL do every day is write. How about you?