Two jock blackbirds argue from somewhere underneath the quad bike. I sit inside the garage, the morning mist and rain framed like a painting by the wide mouth of the open door. The birds are wetbacks, bedraggled and hungry and in no mood, either of them, for negotiation. I had obviously dropped some seed yesterday as I dove deep into the seed barrel with my plastic jug and these two are sparring for first dibs. Earlier I watched a sparrow hawk strike, the frenzied chase as one of them hit the window and recovered, the subsequent lift of hawk with empty talons, and the out breath of relief from my mouth.
Two gulls fly overhead, rising from the tall pines that flank the sea-loch like old seamen looking out. One dips and lifts, drawing wide circles in the smoky sky whilst the follower cuts a straight line through the air, closing the distance between them. I have no idea if this is a friendly or the opposite. I don’t speak ‘gull’. It is so much easier to follow, is it not? I say out loud. And it thinks me.
So many times I don’t say what I want to say. This, I accept, is learned behaviour, learned through the narrow corridor (in which I must never run) of parental, marital and societal design, the walls of it confining and defining me. Or so it might appear from the outside. Inside, however, there could be a fire raging. In the face of such duality, the tension and frustration can lead to minor, or major bodily manifestations. A headache, for example, or a nagging back pain, indigestion and sleeplessness. And those are the minor ones. I wonder why any of us keep doing it, denying the truth, too scared to speak out for fear of ‘public’ opinion. I have done it brilliantly, burying my voice in deep ground leaving only a squeak to push through, too late for the season past, the words losing all relevance of memory in anyone’s head. What are you talking about? I might be asked, when the squeak produces a wimpy flower, brave but pointless and dull of hue. As I disseminate, I watch the flower grasped by a new wind and tossed in sprawling tatters across the lawn of today. Too late now, for that speke to vocalise itself. Stupid me. I should have said it at the time. But I didn’t.
As I grow older and inhibit my voice less, I can encourage others to find their voice, develop it, practise congruence and honest talk, no matter what or who flaps them down. To practice eloquence. Knock down those corridors, I tell them, or find your way back into the light, your own light, not theirs. But, I don’t know what the response will be, they reply. So? That is their problem, not yours, no matter who they are. Finding a voice is one thing. Tempering your choice of words, your tone, your body language, well, that takes practice. Lashing out in anger may feel great at first but it will often result in guilt and remorse, not because of what you say, but of how you say it. And practice is just what it says it is, a repetitive process, over time, with intelligent attention to detail. It is not cutting through the air. It is drawing circles in the sky, of feeling the lift and luff of greater forces, of noticing a slip of change and of responding to it.
We get nowhere suddenly, not if the destination is worth the journey. And if the destination is being true to self, then it’s a long walk to such a freedom. However, just one step, just one in the direction of congruence will give a new lightness to the heaviest of feet. Walking along someone else’s corridor is not living a healthy life. Eventually the mind will dull along with dreams, hopes and aspirations. Our own song will forget how to sing itself. Too many comply in order not to upset others, deeming it acceptable to upset ourselves instead, as if self doesn’t matter at all. This headache, this indigestion, this itchy skin, this nagging pain is fine, I’m fine.
And we all know the acronym of ‘Fine’.