I’ve been thinking about the voices that impact my life. I’m talking about the ones I hear when no one else is around. A bevy of naggers, destructors, cheerleaders and optimists that crowd my inner life and influence the way I work, parent, and perceive the world and my relationship to just about everything.
Many cultures believe that naming something gives the namer (yes, it’s not a word, but it should be) –or the named – power. But how many of us have bothered to stop and name our voices? I suspect most of us simply listen without any filters.
Well . . . no more. I’m going to give it a shot right here, right now.
The first are a family of scraggly-haired, snaggletoothed, warty women. They live in the open on a tiny island in the middle of a swamp with an incredible amount of methane gas and sulfur. Only acid rain falls on their muddy, bleak domain. The subsist on moldy, half cooked grains — and bugs — scounged from around their yard. They speak in creaky, cracky, wheedling whispers. The only thing they can successfully grow is decay.
Let’s get out the disinfectant, bug spray, pointed stakes and matches for . . .
Ms. I’m Crap, My Writing Is Crap, My Life Is Crap
Ms. I’m A Bad Mother and her sister Ms. I’m A Bad Wife
Ms. Why Does Everyone Else Always Get All The Attention?
Ms. This Will Never Work
And their cousins Ms. Why Bother? and Ms. I Don’t Deserve Success
Down the road from these maggots masquerading as ladies is a run down cottage. Its walls used to be white and strong, but now they’re a strange combination of peeling, crumbling shades of brown and gray. A spindly hedge with pale green leaves and large black thorns surrounds the thatched round-roofed building. Three middle-aged sisters, wearing torn dresses and stockings with countless holes, hoe and dig in the hard dirt. They think of having a garden someday, but do nothing to improve the soil. They eat gray flavorless foods. Dust covers their expressionless faces.
Hello to . . .
Ms. This is Hard, So Why Don’t I Give Up?
Ms. There’s Never Enough, I Need More
Ms. I’m Selfish For Taking Time For Yourself
and everyday, sometimes more than once, their neighbor stops by: Ms. Clean the F*cking House
Several miles away from the other two dwellings is a modest brick home. Its front yard has beds and beds of herbs – borage, basil, lemon balm, rosemary, lavender and so much more – and fruiting apple, apricot, peach and cherry trees. Hummingbirds, bees, ladybugs, spiders and praying mantises find happy refuge here. In the backyard on the other side of the garden’s fence, chickens cluck. The building’s windows are all open, the doors too. Every room is full of natural light. All are welcome to come in and sit in the kitchen at the large wooden table for a cup of coffee, tea, or a slice of homemade bread with butter and honey. Cello practice, fingers clicking on a computer keyboard, grunts from rigorous exercise, singing and laughter – oh, so much laugher – testify to the health of this dwelling.
Let’s embrace the last of my voices . . .
Ms. Isn’t Life Beautiful?
Ms. My Life Is Filled With Love
Ms. I Like The Person I See In The Mirror
Ms. I Am So Fortunate
Ms. There Is Enough
Ms. Thank You For Absolutely Everything
Ms. How Incredibly Interesting! How Cool!
Ms. Maybe This Would Make A Good Story
and Ms. Why Not?
I’m sure there are more names, more voices. But doing this today, taking the time to name and personify some of them, has been fascinating. I’m left feeling a little naked and, strangely, cleansed, lighter, more powerful.
Tell me . . . Who are your voices?