Trapped inside the frantic cacophony
Of modern life,
Plagued by harsh, jarring sounds
Of protest, outrage, and fear,
You unexpectedly discover
That the absence of your own voice,
The one that has yet to be heard,
Is a consequence of never allowing
Your vulnerabilities
To speak.

The acoustics of everyday life
Exhaust your sensibilities.
Voices of authority, consumption, and discord
Conspire to lead you back
To the same worries
Predictable anxieties
And fierce ruminations
That conspire to drown your awareness
In an angry sea of noise.

Now that you are growing old
And feel the seasonality of autumn
Moving deep within,
And the terrifying beauty
Of transience
Resonating everywhere in your body,
You start to hear
The call of your own voice
That has been waiting
All these years
Encouraging you to come back
To the wild terrain
That will inspire you
And bring you to your knees.

All the other voices
You have sounded
In your life
Are not your own.
They are the echoes of your anonymity,
Deserted and marooned
In the conditioned,
The predictable,
And a story that is not yours to tell
But thought you had to live.

And this:
When you are still
You can hear the tranquil descent of a single tear
Sliding down your cheek,
Finding its way back into the shadows
Of your buried life.

And it is here
On your knees,
After all these years
Sounding the sirens
Of misguided ambition,
You finally learn
That nothing can drown out
The haunting cry of your longing.
Now you walk toward it
Frightened, humbled, and determined
With no desire to retreat.

Even you can hear
In these words
The courageous voice
Of primal vulnerability
And the fragile utterings
Of a beginner
Fumbling around
In the noise,
Ignoring all the other voices
That have confused and mislead
And made you anonymous,
So that you can finally speak
From the solitary flame
Of your mystery.

And now,
As you try to say something for the first time
You can hear the utterings
Of a childlike voice.
You blush at its innocence
Smile at its foolishness
And celebrate its immaturity.
For the first time,
Deep inside the autumn of your life,
You finally come home
To the sound of your unknowing.

Notes

  1. Sometimes poetry takes the shape of giving a good talking to yourself. It urges authenticity in expression, which, for me, always seems to arrive as a willingness to be vulnerable.
  2. This poem is inspired by the remarkable body of work created by David Whyte. In particular, Your Own Voice is my response to Start Close In, a poem by David Whyte that, for me, touches the essence of authenticity and the creative imagination.

[Return to Frontier 3: Spirit]