Sunday, February 6, 2011

Listening to the voices in my head....

The voices have gotten louder as I've gotten older. You know, the ones that whisper into our ears, hissing instructions like, "Oh, that doesn't look like a good decision, that one there you have your mind cemented around, maybe you should rethink it, YESSSSSS," reminiscent of a mother's voice guiding, advising, counseling....meddling.

There are times now when I am literally stopped in mid-step by such a voice, and I've learned that I'd better pay attention to that inner counsel. I realize now if I given it more consideration over the years, just a tiny bit, it would have prevented me from taking some unfortunate paths, paths that hurt me as well as other unsuspecting people along the way.

Like saying "yes" to a marriage proposal in a casino. What was I thinking? I seemed to believe at the time that I might not get another offer, so I pushed that voice down hard. Smashed it to bits and stowed it in my suitcase in a hotel room in Reno. It kept trying to crawl out, gasping as it tried desperately to grab my attention again. "Hey! Over here! LISTEN to me!" But I was intent on ignoring it, and did, and lived to regret it.

Or even my course of study in college. I went off to Tallahassee a budding, anxious novelist who wanted nothing more than to write forever, even if I did have wrong-headed visions of what writers did, creating mythical worlds in attic eaves and reaping a fortune in the process. Somehow, I veered off that path into the world of French, until I thought, dreamt, and read fluently in French. But couldn't speak a word out loud or write my novels in the language. Withdrawn, socially inept me, unable to make a mistake in front of others, because they MIGHT NOT LIKE ME. That inner voice knew all of that, tried to warn me, but I turned away, until I changed my education, teaching kids history and geography. Literature, you thought? Not even then. The inner counsel lost out again. After all, I could always get a job teaching, right, so best to do something safe. Boring. Until nearly 40 years had gone by, so many years wasted not doing what I love.

Or the time I got in a car with a driver who was a novice to the Colorado roads, especially the one-lane, gravel track along the side of a mountain with a sheer drop off on one side. The voice insisted that I might want to get out before he started up that mountain, but I didn't want to appear silly, now did I? Soon, all I could see out the back window was....nothing. Space, open air, between me and the ground down there....way down there. Luckily, and probably only through luck, we made it down in one piece. But things could have turned out quite differently, just like the voice had been warning.

I took a job a few years ago, one that I wanted in order to escape from another bad work situation, and I knew as soon as I walked into the second interview that something was not right. I could feel it. I knew and admired the supervisor, and thought we would work well together. But my inner voice was frantic, insisting that I wait a while longer for a job, an untainted one, to come along. I didn't listen. I succumbed to expediency, the immediate need for relief from another uncomfortable spot. And the whole situation turned out to be so wrong. Just like I had been warned.

How many times a day does a voice whisper in your ear? Do you listen to it or do you tamp it down due to society's expectations, your family's desires for you (or for them), or just because you don't want people to think you're crazy?

Act crazy. Do what you love instead of what everyone else loves for you. And listen to that tiny, or sometimes very loud, cry in your soul that is trying to guide you. I now take different roads if something inside is telling me to take a detour and I avoid some people for no reason other than that inner sense telling me that it will turn out badly.

The voices are getting louder all the time. And I'm spending more time listening.


“Good instincts usually tell you what to do long before your head has figured it out.”

                                                 Michael Burke

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