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  • Writer's pictureSJ Cunningham

Putting a voice to it all

Hello, Friends!

I had been so excited to write my blog post for this week. In my mind, it was going to be awesome! I'd had plans to visit a new spot for a little weekend adventure--Prabhupada's Palace of Gold, a place of pilgrimage in the the unlikely location in West Virginia. I had planned to write of different cultures and atypical food in a setting that inspired wonder and awe.

But then the rain came, and plans of our brunch in the rose garden were dashed. I was mildly disappointed, but only mildly, because the trip is only postponed, not canceled altogether.

This led me to think about the way that we build things up in our minds I oftentimes imagine events, evenings, conversations, meetings which I believe will go one way, but when those situations occur, more often that not, they go quite another. I am rarely the heroine that I have imagined myself to be. Instead, I am usually...nothing at all. At best, perhaps I am a footnote for another participant. Maybe I am a pleasant enough secondary character, who added a bit of color to the hour.

The thing is, I never really want to be the heroine--at least, I don't think I want to be. I'm much more comfortable in my role as quiet observer, even in the space of my own life, in the confines of my modest little career. Any kind of attention is uncomfortable, and self-promotion fills me with dread.

I think that my mission has been to observe all along, up until this point. Sometimes it has been to communicate observations, but on behalf of someone else. It is only recently that this has not seemed to be enough. That observations should be recorded and then maybe shouted, with a VOICE. But the thing about a voice is that it yearns to be heard. In fact it must be heard if it's going to make any kind of difference at all. And for a voice to be heard, it has to be more than pleasant background noise.

All this is to say if Rilke, in the Duino Elegies, was right (and I put a lot of stock into what he thought) , and that:

"...Yes, the springtimes needed you. Often a star was waiting for you to notice it.

A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past,

or as you walked under an open window, a violin yielded itself to your hearing,

All this was mission. But could you accomplish it?"

Can I accomplish it? Can you? Can you appreciate every flower, leaf, sound, emotion and experience for what it was is, even if it was simply to exist in the first place? And then can you somehow string those sights, sounds, tastes, smells and touch into a life? And can you communicate that life so that it means something?

When I think about it that way, it becomes both simple and extremely complex. Because this means letting go of all of the pettiness and the useless worry that plagues us most days. This means appreciating the seemingly meaningless in life and finding the beauty in the small and the understated. This means placing the grand events into perspective and elevating the everyday moments. This means paying attention and staying in the moment. All.The.Time.

And for me, it means putting a voice to it all.

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