Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just Listen

I'm searching for my voice. Have you seen it? No, of course you haven't, because I'm not sure I ever had it to lose.

Discovering one's voice is tough work. My inner monologue is a chameleon, constantly changing and shifting to suit my dialogue partner or my current mood. I'm sitting very still these days, trying to hear, straining for a syllable of my voice. Is it catty? Sarcastically biting reaching hard to be witty, when indeed I am not? Do I wax sentimental too much, caught in emotions that you, the audience, find dull?

In The Treehouse, Leonard Wolf demands you to speak in your own voice otherwise you're work is meaningless. It is not you. He also says we are all artists. That our art is our life's work. Be it in the traditional art forms, or in a less conventionally thought of method. Bringing happiness to those individuals around you, fixing an engine, fishing, campaigning for a cause, recording history. Whatever it is that you contribute to this world, that is your life's work.

I desperately want my contribution to be words. Solid, tangible things, printed and saved for all time. Life stored on dusty shelves to be flipped through periodically at whim. This has been a dream for a long time, but put on hold for my true life's work. Reading this book, I had a revelation. I am a mother. Nothing new there, I've been one for over 5 years. That makes me a baby in the land of motherhood, but my revelation was this. No matter what I write, or submit, or have published, I will not have made an impact.

But in another arena, my mark is already deep. It shows in the politeness of my children. It shines in their deep bear hugs and whispered I love yous. It blazes across the sky with each new milestone Sugarbaby accomplishes. It is there, it is real, it is tangible. It hurts. Pain is real, pain is an impression not soon forgotten. Art is pain. Motherhood is pain. An ache so deep, so pressing that you might explode from the sheer amount of love contained in your heart. Heartache is real, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

A Hallmark card I am not. Mistakes, I have made them. But my babies? My darling children. The flesh and blood that I would lay my life down for? They will remember me. And in the end, that is all I could ever hope for.

My voice might be eluding me right now, it might take years to find it. Maybe when I am older, wiser, and my beautiful babies don't need me quite so much, I can work on another avenue of my life. Until then, I'm going to be still, as best I can, and listen. Just listen.


  1. Everybody who's stressed over finding their 'voice' should read this post! I love your insight at the end especially.

    I read about one workshop leader who told everyone to write down a childhood memory, from the point of view of the child they were then. The students found they could write rapidly and naturally telling the story, and often the voice that came through was hugely different--and more personal or engaging--than the one in their other assignments.

    So I bet you're right: if we relax and listen and most of all, just live, we can let that shape the writing into something uniquely and powerfully ours.

  2. Do we share a brain? Geez, I haven't even read the crazy book and experienced a similar epiphany today. Weird.

    I'm a restless soul, it's been a tough bit to settle down and realize yes, this is my life. This work, with all the body fluids and mundane, is it!

  3. as amazing as you want to be some day i think you need to realize how amazing you are right now. arrr i wish i could remamber the email someone sent me once about the lady who was a sahm and had a group of friends that had gone and done all this great meaningful stuff and as she sat at dinner with them for the first time in years feeling she had nothing to contribute to the conversation. one had just gotten back from a trip she dreamed of going on she was given a book from the place and the person had inscribed roughly "for the beautiful monuments you build everyday that no one sees" ok i am rammbling but i did have a point somewhere in there. i know there are all kinds of great things that we all want to do. sometimes i think my greatest accomplishments will be something bent or had accomplish i know they are great and i can take a little credit for it.

  4. Susan- Thanks! I ought to try that. Sounds like a good exercise. I think there is probably a great deal to be learned from you. Can I pick your brain sometime?

    Tori- Man, that would make functioning in two different counties difficult! We are what we are, and whether or not we planned it, we are here. You and I have both turned an unplanned event into a lifelong love.

    Suz- I've read that email. It is inspiring and thanks for the kind words. I wish you would send me a message so we can catch up. My email is on the sidebar.

  5. "An ache so deep, so pressing that you might explode from the sheer amount of love contained in your heart." WOW! ... you just compressed my life, for the last 22 years, in one sentence. Motherhood has been the most meaningful, frightening and consuming job I have ever tried to tackle. While writing a paper on 'quality' daycare once, I read this quote: "You cannot purchase what has never been for sale, the love and passion of a mother for her child."

  6. Being a good parent is the most important job in the world. "The hand that rocks the cradle...." It's an admirable ambition in life to be a mom first & foremost, and you are fortunate to be a SAHM.

    Do what you need to do, from the heart. Kids first. But don't lose sight of goals, hopes, or dreams. One day, when the kids are grown, and out of the will be alone with you. You might scratch your head, and wonder (as many have) what do I do now?? Funny name - empty nest, but very real.

    It's possible to keep a hand in your dreams, your "wish list", while caring for the kids. Don't forget about you, sis. Always find time to take care of your needs, or you will grow weary of only caring for other's. Then one day, you will wake up, nest empty, and wonder why you didn't try harder to fit your other dreams into your life all those years.


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