your voice

a writer friend once told me about a poem she teaches to her creative writing classes. i’m usually not much for poetry, but it stuck with me then and is still with me now.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

-Mary Oliver

“and there was a new voice/which you slowly/recognized as your own.” GAH. those words. so amazing.

i originally wanted this post to be about that because it is those words i am aiming for — to hear and recognize and utilize my own voice both while speaking and writing, but then i realized i’m in a self-imposed writing break as i try to figure myself out, so this post can’t be about that.

then, it hit me.

those words are also relevant for college grads (yay, mina!) who are now finished with their degrees and are headed out into the big, bad world. they’ve spent four (or five or six or two) years researching and reading and listening and watching and living and learning and doing all with the goal in mind of finding their voice.  some may have discovered it, but can’t hear it over the reverberations of expectations. some may have figured it out years ago and followed it to this exact point. some may be afraid of it. some may be proud of it. some may think it’s in another language. some may be.

some may need more time. some may find it in writing, some in mathematics, some in motherhood, some in underwater basket weaving, some in athletics, some in more school, some in cooking, some in teaching, some in whittling, some in engineering, some in music, some in luxury, some in combat, some in foreign lands, some at home.

some may call it a conscience. some may call it attitude. some may call it confidence. some may call it id or ego. whatever it’s called and whatever it is and wherever and whenever you find it, i hope you embrace it. we can’t wait to hear you.

2 thoughts on “your voice”

  1. Excellent advice to grads. :)

    I feel like I spent many years after college being an impressionist–trying to master the voices of people I admired. Finally, all them tumbled together inside me somehow, and became mine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s