Finding My Voice

I look for other people who share my ideas. When I don’t find common ground, I hold onto those ideas even tighter. I have an experience that validates those ideas. The things I have learned have come through a great deal of trial and error, but also successes. I have gleaned much wisdom from those who have come before, but I have also been blazing trails in the wild, in obscure places, where I have been trying new things.

Returning to civilization, I discover that the landscape has changed. People seem to be speaking a different dialect and I need to learn new vocabularies, phrases, inflections and intonations. As an alien, an exile in a foreign land, I have a constant feeling that I am different, a social misfit, disconnected from the wider community. If I assimilate, I fear that I will lose the part of me that makes me unique, the distinct differences that I have come to value. Others do not appear to have the same appreciation for the rituals I follow and the goods I have to offer. They have difficulty imagining how to integrate these strange tools and practices into their daily lives. In fact, the thought does not cross their minds. They have their own culture and customs, their own dietary practices and traditions, their own daily rituals and ways of living.

To find my way in this city, to survive, I need to learn the language of the people around me, to find something that I can do, that I can make, that I can offer in the marketplace that offers people something of value, something they need. There in the market square, I discover people like me who share stories of walking the same trails and learning the same dialects. We band together to share ideas and we make stuff together. Still, our experiences are different and my own individual voice gets lost as I listen to the voices of others who are more forceful in their speech, more persuasive in their rhetoric, more eloquent with their stories and experiences. I remain quiet to soak in the wisdom of the community. But then I am surprised by the stories and experiences I hear, of problems and challenges, of venturing into new territory. I think to myself, I’ve been there. I know how to get there. I learned how to live in those places, how to survive in the wild. Perhaps there are better ways, but I have some ideas that can help others find their way. So, I speak up. I challenge the conventional wisdom. I find my voice.