Thursday, March 21, 2013

Meemeemeemee ABC 123

I love visiting cities for all the voices you hear during the course of a day. Some voices speak languages I don't know, some speak in tones that are vibrant, others harsh. Voice tells me something about your attitude currently, and when I've gotten to know you, about your worldview. Listening to voices is an incredible joy: accents twist, cadence tickles, pitch pinches and pace asserts. Some people who study voice and speech can even tell where you're from, very specifically--we share parts of our voices, while retaining the part which makes it ours.

Difference in spoken voice is so salient and delightful. Written voice is also an incredible phenomenon. I didn't have much of an appreciation for it until a few years ago when I began to think more consistently about how my writing sounded, and what it was trying to communicate. Blogging poetry is easy, you sculpt each sentence carefully and with meaning. Each word is chosen carefully to evoke a specific image in the mind of your reader. For me, poetry is the most intentional of writing styles...but this is because I overvalue poetry. Poetry is not the only style with a voice. All writing has a voice and it is up to the writer to clearly enunciate that voice in each word she pens, be it in narrative fiction, poetry, persuasive essay or research paper.
My "poetic" voice in high school was incredibly angsty. Parts of that voice stuck around, but it matured, in the way that my squeaky high voice deepened through puberty. It's fun to read what that early voice had to say, but only in moderation.

My ninth grade high school English teacher really encouraged me to write in my own voice. He loved the zany stories and essays I would write. I really tried hard to be descriptive and let my words drip with savory juices. My vocabulary was growing, and I explored each new word I was learning, trying to fit them in appropriately, and more often humorously. Writing in high school was new and fresh and I loved it. I was finding my voice.

A friend of mine blogs regularly--for the moment. That's not a criticism, it's just acknowledging the reality of this blog, which had regular posts for some time, before going fallow for about 2 years. It happens. In any case, she's blogging, and writing about her life. She writes about God working in her life, about giving up control, about finding her place in her field, about scones and tea. It's fun to read and get insights into what she thinks about. Her voice though is still developing. I hear someone else's voice in her words.
A mutual friend of ours blogs every day. She has a brand, a style and a consistent readership. Her voice is incredibly consistent and vibrant. Few people I know write in this way, and it's clearly hers. This is the voice I hear in my other friend's blog. It's a good voice, but it's not hers (that I know of). I haven't read enough of the first friend's writing to say what her voice might sound like, but I know the voice she speaks with in her blog is nearly identical to the other familiar voice I'm used to reading. I like that voice, but I want my friend to find her own voice. Her writing is good, but I think it can be so much better if she can find that voice, and speak comfortably with it. I want to hear the spunk her spoken voice has, but written. I could be wrong, but I think there's another voice hiding in there, waiting to set words on fire.

I want to hear that voice too.

I ain't afraid of no ghosts!

EDIT: I posted this three days ago, but Blogger apparently disagreed with my request. Well, it's published now...

It's snowing now. We're supposed to be in for a helluva storm, but I'm skeptical. It's fear that the news stations and weather sprinkle into their forecasts, so we'll pay attention. We need some fear, to make sure we take care, to keep our priorities straight, to live life instead of watch it go by. Fear loses its usefulness past these (maybe more) functions. Fear is what would have kept me from working abroad when I was in college, from traveling by myself and exploring places with strangers become friends. Fear is what keeps me from sharing my Jesus with the people around me. Fear is what kept me, at Calvin College, from living the life that Jesus would have. There was no growth there, but several years of contented inaction.

Fear was all I knew as a child. Fear that my parents would die in an auto accident and I would be left with my younger siblings, to try to provide for them, or be separated among our larger family. Fear was always there, lurking, wondering with an overactive imagination, "What if?"

Fear has a hold in inaction, I've found. It delights in the status quo. Moments of spontaneity crush fear.
Asking a crush from high school to dance with me for the first time started to liberate me from my fear (maybe fear of rejection) of women. I can count her as a friend now.
Taking the initiative to step into Prof. Nielsen's office and inform him that, yes, I would like to travel overseas to take a job in Germany, knowing no German, and knowing I would earn no money to put toward my tuition.
I'd like to say that it was faith which propelled me through those decisions and on that course, but it was probably adrenaline in the first case simple curiosity in the second.

My life changed significantly from these two experiences, from taking a pass on fear, taking a chance that it might not be as bad as I could envision. I left the superfluous thinking in my head, and let my feet lead me to a slow dance in a sweaty gym, and to an amazing experience in culture, friendship, language and chemistry.

So take that weather station, I'm not afraid of your banal weather warnings. I'll boldly take to the roads on my way home tonight.

P.S. When you see my grey Vibe in a ditch tonight, kindly call me a tow truck when you get home.