It’s become a cliche only because it is so powerful and pervasive. Your “voice,” I once heard songwriter Pat Terry say, is what makes people say, “That’s a Gary Furr song” or “that’s a (your name here) story.’ I have thought about this for thirty years, focused when I once, during a five day solitary retreat started to say a short prayer I had been using to center myself and blurted out, “Father, help me to be myself.”
If that sounds so very self-centered in our culture already so “you-can-be-whatever-you-want-to-be,” permit me to observe that despite our coaching of selves and self-focus I sure meet a lot of broken ones out there in life. People wounded and held back by a voice in their head: “you’ll never amount to anything,” and somettimes not even traumatic voices–just ones we imbibe from our world. “So many people are better than you. What do you have to offer? What’s the point?”
Songwriting has been a hard, wonderful journey. It is my journal. Things erupt when you write. Where did that image come from? Not always sure, but something about fingers on the keys start to turn it loose. Long buried stories and memories are there somewhere, and when you start working the “ground” with your spade–be it a keyboard or a pencil–it loosens into clods and then what is underneath begins to reveal itself.
I am not so sure about this culture that it is “self focused” to our detriment. Self-centeredness can be a symptom of a crushing ethos where genuine selfhood is squelched out of existence before it has a chance to bloom. When there is only the self with no community that listens, corrects lovingly, engages and affirms, then there will only be the caricature of the soul. Thus we wind up with manipulators, grandiose empty wells and life-absorbers. Self and community are not antithetical. They invigorate one another and renew one another if they live in the right vital tension.
It is important to find your voice, not merely for you, but for the rest of us. Keep looking, and when you come upon it, start using it.
I have stumbled on some voices whose sounds I like. Here are a few:
Gary Gunderson “The Leading Causes of Life”
Heather Jassy My incredible daughter’s blog about life and motherhood
Martin E. Marty, “Sightings”
jon jassy Spontaneous Inventions My son in law is a therapist and life coach in Hudson, NY and writes a fine blog
Blind Faith is a wonderful, thoughtful blog by my friend Ed Culpepper
Baby Steps I like blogs about ordinary life. Julie Bosche is a stay at home mom and freelance writer who has some nice takes on the small world after all
Claudia Johnson BrainCaviar Beauty, reflections and thoughts on daily life.