Once upon a time, my mouth was almost always shut. Whilst my mind would wander/wonder its way through a plethora of responses and retorts, I shrunk from giving them open voice. Not just symptomatic of having a dread of confrontation (as that still exists), my silence was borne of a belief that I was somehow not qualified to answer. My silence was charged with the insidious power of ‘who are you to say anything?’. I would shy away from but a few answers, and alone and half an hour later, replay the dialogue with my preferred interjections.
It is interesting how people will vociferously back someone’s right to not be queue-jumped, but won’t speak out about blanket judgements in play each day. People will be quick to point out injustices to their friends and yet not sign petitions for causes by which, they say, define them. I pass no judgement, as I too was one of those people. And very recently so. But no longer.
And that is how I have found my speech. I (try HARD to) pass no judgement. I don’t speak to tell someone that they have no right to their opinion. But I will state mine, not to see them reflect it, but because mine has equal weight in the world to theirs. I will draw the line between their view and mine. I will say if I am uncomfortable with the nature of the conversation or the tone. I won’t insist that it is changed but I wonder what charges a voice that continues.
I speak now. I may speak later than most, but I will add my voice to the mix. I pick my words as carefully as I can, tiptoeing through my passions to find a voice of reason, but there are words to be said. I will sit in silence first, but sound will form my thoughts for others to hear. For I believe that silence, just sometimes, involves you in the very thing that you wish didn’t even exist in the world. By saying nothing, somehow, the ocean of no resistance can pull you into its flow and implicate you in its momentum. And I don’t want to flow that way.
It’s a tough line to tread, having a responsibility to sit true to your voice and yet the right that others have to voice theirs. It’s tough to remain open to the natural and necessary diversity of the world in all its layers and not to shut down that which will never resonate with you. It’s hard to send out your message knowing that it may never echo back to you happily, that need has to be released. May I always have the integrity to remain in my voice instead of projecting mine into other people’s mouths.
“Choosing with integrity means finding ways to speak up that honor your reality, the reality of others, and your willingness to meet in the center of that large field. It’s hard sometimes.” ― Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice