The Voice Within
I am the youngest of four boys. And naturally, as the youngest, I grew up idolizing my older brothers. They were cool. They were popular. Very talented in sports. Very well-liked. And they had the girls. My brothers were my first examples of boyhood and what boys ‘should be’ or should be doing.
Now, being that my brothers were all a few years older than me, I didn’t get to hang around them much outside of home, so I didn’t pick up on certain things as they did. The times I did get to hang with them were mostly because my mom forced them to take me with them when they went out. They weren’t always too happy about this. But me? I was all to excited. I mean, what kid isn’t excited to hang with the big bros, right?
The older I became, the more I often felt like the odd ball because I didn’t have any of the same talents as my brothers. While my brothers enjoyed watching a game of football or basketball on TV, I preferred to be outside playing Star Wars with sticks or wearing penny loafers with high-water dress pants and white socks dancing to Michael Jackson. Yep. I was the weird one. I knew this because….well, because they told me.
My oldest brother had the natural gift of being able to draw. He was a great artist. Beyond great. He was awesome! Everyone praised his work. I wanted that kind of praise and figured I would try my hand at drawing. I quickly discovered that I just didn’t have the knack for it. So, I started imitating my brother’s drawings. Well, more like tracing my brother’s drawings. Then, I started taking those drawings (tracings) to school. I’d show my friends and teachers saying, “Hey, look what I did!” They were impressed! And I felt really good about myself…even though it was all based on a lie. (I wonder if any of my friends or teachers knew I was lying about that. Well, if they didn’t then, they sure do now.)
As I mentioned earlier, my brothers were also excellent sportsmen. From the time they were old enough to sign up to play anything until they graduated high school, they excelled at football, basketball, baseball, as well as track and field. They were always in the town’s newspaper and won several trophies.
Now, the few times I got to hang with them, I’d get to play football or basketball with them and the neighborhood kids. How’d that go? Well, I was always that kid that was the last to get picked and always wound up getting put out of the game because I would always wind up hurt. I never really wanted to play in the first place, but was always urged to do so anyway. Usually because they needed “one more person” and it was rather convenient that I was that one. So, I went along with it.
After a while, I began to wonder what if I have some natural sports talent that I just haven’t tapped into yet. What if I really was good in sports, but just needed someone else to bring it out of me. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could get out there on the field or the court and show everyone my skills and prove that I had talent?
Well, in the 6th grade, I decided to show the world that I too had talent in sports. I joined the basketball team. How’d that go? Well, let’s just say….let’s just say I sucked! It was horrible. It was quite evident from game one (hell, from the first practice) that I didn’t have that natural ability my brothers seemed to have. Our coach recognized this, too. Which is why I stayed on the bench. I think I touched the ball twice the entire season. But I was great at making sure the bench stayed in place and didn’t move and that it stayed warm for the other players. That season confirmed what I had already known…sports just wasn’t my thing. But, it was during that same year that I also came to another realization. A realization that would change my life.
In the spring of that year, the entire sixth grade class was given a music test to determine which of us had any musical ability. They gathered the classes into the auditorium and we sat there listening to different sounds and had to mark whether the tones were high or low. I really didn’t expect to pass because I wasn’t trying. I was just glad to not be in class. But, as blessings would have it, I did pass.
Then came time to pick an instrument. We were given three choices. My first choice was drums, second choice was saxophone, third choice was trumpet. The band director looked at my list of instrument choices and went into the instrument room to find a drum for me. He came out and said there were no drums left and that I would have to play the saxophone, my second choice. Now, I really wasn’t feeling the sax, but figured I’d give it a try anyway. Well, just as we were about to leave, someone yelled out from the instrument room that there was one more drum left. YES!!!!!! It worked out. It was the start of great things for me….in more ways than one.
Getting that drum was life-changing for me. A defining moment. You see, I finally had my own thing. I could hear my own voice. And I liked what I heard. And, as I soon discovered, so did the rest of the world. I was happy. Happy because I felt free to be who I wanted to be, express myself, feel good about it and see others feel good about it as well.
Understand what was really happening here. Deep down, my desire wasn’t really to do the things my brothers did. It was for the feelings I thought I would gain from doing those things. I wanted to feel like I was good at something. I wanted to feel the attention and appreciation my brothers must have felt for their talents and the things that they did. I didn’t understand or even know that I had my own voice…my own thing…something within me that could very well contribute and draw love all the same. Something that made me happy. And up until I found music (or music found me), I felt I had to be like my brothers in order to feel that way. Thank God I learned otherwise.
What about you? Have you found your voice? Can you hear it? What does it sound like? Are you listening? At what point did you begin to suppress your true self in favor of a self more pleasing to others?
Many have become so immersed in the sounds of the voices of others that their own voice is drowned out by the noise. Some have not heard their voice in so long that they’ve forgotten they have one. Others still have yet to discover their voice. Instead of hearing the voice within, they focus on the voices without. Too many people have forgotten their own Selves. So much so that they want to be someone else. They strive for things that they don’t even want…things that others choose for them. They want to do things they are told they are supposed to do. They want to be who they are told they are supposed to be. They want to have what they are told they are supposed to have. They spend a lot of time (and money) trying to live up to the standards of others. They want someone else’s ‘thing’. Someone else’s fame. Someone else’s glory. Often to the detriment and demise of their own being…their own uniqueness. But is it worth it? Most definitely not.
What would it take to free yourself? To hear your own voice? How will you know your voice? Trust me…you’ll know it when you hear it. You can’t help but recognize it. All you have to do is listen. Spend some time alone in silence….quietly questioning all that you believe and think you know about yourself. Pray and allow Truth to show you who you are…trusting that He will do just that. His Voice will most certainly speak to you. For your voice and His are one in the same. There is no separation between the two. You are a vital part of Him, and He of you…as a drop of water is to the ocean.
I was born to be me. Just as my brothers were born to be who they are. And just as you were born to be who you truly are. We are all unique entities contributing to the harmony of existence. Each note a voice for God. Decide now to seek within and find your voice. Don’t worry. It’s there. Always has been. Always will be. In your voice is your freedom, your peace, your life. Hear it. Live it. Love it. Speak it to the world. We need to hear it. You are a note in the infinitesimal chord of being. It’s time that you tuned your consciousness and chimed in. The world is listening. Hear you soon.
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