The sparseness of foliage in the Winter pares back sound to a pure form here in the valley. I hear the distinctive trills of robins as they mark out their territory. And multiple wing-beats of starlings flying in formation across the hillside around 4 o’clock each day. The sound of sleet hitting the water like tennis balls volleying across a court. Or the voice of the fox echoing in the night.
Even Jac’s unique chuntering as his companions crowd into his space at the feeding trough. We all know what he means, even if we don’t personally speak ‘alpaca’.
All these sounds are distinctive. They are the signatures written in audible waves that translate into individual characters in our ears. We know who they are.
Delightful. True to their identity. Unmistakable.
Walking around the valley is like taking a stroll with a natural orchestra playing their Winter Symphony.
When did we lose our voice?
With this richness as background, I picked up a conversation on ‘Living out loud’ between Ian Cron and Jo Saxton last week. The phrase that resonated with me deeply was ‘when did you lose your voice?’ It stopped me in my tracks and demanded attention.
The phrase viscerally connected back to my recent reflections on being. And helpfully took me deeper, peeling off layers as it did so.
Our true voice is what has always been true of us as individuals. Our identity out loud. It’s our essence – our unique signature – but if we don’t know who we are, we can lose it.
Asking the question ‘when did I lose my voice?’ was powerful. It took me back to the little but insistent instances when I’d been told in word or attitude that my voice wasn’t OK. I needed to be someone else.
Over time I developed my alter ego, burying my real voice under layers of approval and affirmation for who I should be. In my case that substantially revolved around being intelligent and intellectual, deep in the serious stuff of significant purpose. It also made me wary of opening my mouth unless I was sure of the grounds on which I was speaking. And confidence that I was going to say it in the right way.
But who and what did I lose in the process? When did someone else’s voice become more important than my own?
Of course, this isn’t just about speaking out loud.
Our ‘voice’ is also reflected in what we champion. In how we express what is most important to us and what makes us tick.
What happened along the way to lose the connection? Who cut the thread?
Stillness is the point of reflection
This is such an important question. We can’t expect to find answers in places full of noise.
The pared back environment of Winter, when things are still, enables us to hear sounds with clarity. We can’t hide in the lush vegetation where voices are muffled, or be distracted by the heavy scent of colourful blossom.
Sometimes we find these moments when we are least expecting them. But if we are open they may have things to tell us. Reminders of when aspects of who we really are were either taken or given away. Always with the promise of an ‘improved version’, but which took us further and further away from the clear notes that only we can sing.
My elderly mother, who has lived with us for 18 years, is fading away. The nature of her deterioration is bringing all sorts of things to the surface. As these situations often do.
They are laying bare aspects of who I think I am, and bringing others to the surface. We have to sit with it and let it do its work. Being prepared to acknowledge the point where we lost our voice. When it was taken from us and we let it go.
The stillness is both sad and strangely content. It’s a vulnerable place, where hope is born. And if given oxygen, it grows – eventually.
It’s also not an ‘alone’ place. We may be on our own but we need others to support and hold us at times. To help us verbalise and make sense of when we lost our voice. And encourage our practising the vocals that will enable us, once again, to express our identity out loud.
To be continued…