I was born to talk.
Family lore holds that we descend from revolutionary speech-givers, traveling preachers and Irishmen. The blarney is strong in my family.
I have a voice designed for tent-revivals and stump oratory. It is loud and pitched to be heard over carnival crowds and throughout assembly halls without a microphone. I once did a reading at my Grandma’s country church, and folks said you could hear me in the next county.
I speak to persuade. Mama always said that I could talk the devil out of his pitchfork. As an attorney, I am prone to a style of ceaseless cajoling that tends to wear down opposition. Sometimes opposing counsel will cede a point just to get some quiet.
As a life-long pedant helpful person, I tend to lecture educate people around me on obscure mythology, the Constitution, and exclusions to homeowner’s insurance policies (I can’t imagine why I am not invited to more parties). It just doesn’t seem fair to keep knowledge to myself, especially when someone doesn’t know something important – like the origin story of a Marvel Comics superhero or if Han Solo shot first.
I recently said that I was thinking of becoming a teacher because my two favorite things are 1) the sound of my own voice and 2) a captive audience. I said it to be funny – but I also meant it.
Then I started to lose my voice. I figured it was laryngitis or breathing dust from ongoing home renovations. It got worse, and after three months of sounding like Harvey Fierstein after he had smoked a tobacco warehouse and gargled with gravel, I went to the doctor. A “helluva” polyp was growing on my voice-box. It was surgically removed a few days later.
Doctor’s orders included “voice rest.” I had to stay silent for a whole year (OK, really a few days) and then speak “only when necessary” for a week or so after that.
I wondered how to communicate and worried that strangers in shops would think I was rude when I didn’t say anything. I printed up little signs explaining that I couldn’t talk, and why, as well as a number or responses to common questions.
You know what I have learned? People really don’t care that much about what I have to say. I thought people would be disappointed when I went somewhere and just held up my sign saying I couldn’t speak.
As long as I was not actively bothering them– nobody really cared.
Is it freeing that nobody really wants to hear my well-reasoned and insightful opinions? Or is it disappointing? I haven’t decided.
Perhaps this is a lesson for me from the universe.
KIDDING! The forces in the universe have much more important things to be concerned with, what with all the war and famine and Kardashians on Twitter.
So am I going to resolve to listen more, speak less? Try to be a kinder, quieter person?
Hell no. Expect to hear from me – at full volume.