This is the second consecutive October in which I’ve house-sat for a puppy. Today the puppy discovered her voice. Underneath my eardrums’ annoyance at her sharp barks, I’m jealous.
Once upon a time, I used and embodied my voice in every way without apology. I remember my early childhood revelry in vocal and figurative expressions alike. Evidence: file folders full of school-related and freetime-created projects, dating back to age five of kindergarten year. Countless handwritten stories which just had to be told, usually starring animal protagonists. Colorful rubber-stamped, illustrated compositions and magazine picture collages. Cassette tapes imprinted with improvised ditties, imaginary weather reports, strange sound effects. And more, all the way through high school. (Thanks for saving those original hard copies, Mom.)
I’ve lost my physical voice plenty of times throughout my teens and twenties due to reckless overuse. I’ve also noticed a recurring theme of my throat as central headquarters for every illness, including covid of late, not unlike a certain Greek hero of the Trojan War with a special heel. A telltale throat tickle has signaled my inevitable surrender to each bacterial and viral infection I’ve ever encountered. No matter how many times I went hoarse or mute, though—no matter how long the imposed silence lasted—my voice always bounced back.
I am once again a puppy with an urge to bark. In these recent years, otherwise known as the geriatric dog years, I’m navigating through a silent spell of my figurative, creative presence: how to trust the way I craft words into resonant stories beyond the 20-years-long familiarity of ensemble-generated work. And also navigating my physical sound: how to sing solo, sans the costumed cover of a character in stage musicals, without the mask of a multi-part harmony in choirs.
I’m searching for the voice that already inhabits me, the one I already inhabit. A voice rendered somewhat foreign from different despairing erosions, and a bit obscured by untended calcifications. What a cave system I’ve spelunked in an effort to first rediscover then embody my good, worthy voice once again.
I’m taking puppy progress steps, such as posting this imperfect blog article, and learning to cherish my sung sound waves as they’re heard from outside the echochamber of my cranium.
I jockey the chaos disguised as calm. The process, neither neat nor tidy from my perspective, has yet to reach a conclusion. I’m afraid of the bellowing howl waiting to escape my lungs and larynx. I fear the sonic boom of so much backlogged energy, so many sparks, each building pressure, poised to explode.
You’ll hear more about this journey before too long.