VOICE

mural-1small1.jpg Wheel of Fortune, Mural, 10 feet high, Budapest, Hungary, housepaint on wallpaper

Years ago a friend of mine in London, a woman I honoured and admired who wrote monologues for the BBC, suggested I “set my intent”.

What she explained to me was this: everybody lives their life on soulful assumptions organic to their nature, organic to their purpose on this planet. We do this unconsciously. If we make this intent conscious, the universe provides us with a more honed package of what we want or need. We then find our life to be more successful and fulfilling.

She said it took a year to write hers. And after she was finished, jobs and people, friends and lovers, came to her without effort. She basically put her boat in the right river and aimed it in the right direction.

Sit down and write on the top of the paper, she said, what you think your intent is. It may not be exactly it. You must mull it. Ponder it. Let it gestate. As you go along it deepens and changes and you get clearer and clearer.

I wrote down that my intent was to “do my art”, whether that be fiction writing or visual art. After I did that, jobs working for art organizations fell into my lap. I met lots of artists and writers.

But still this wasn’t exactly it. It was closer, but not exactly it. A year passed; I realized my intent was deeper.

I wrote my intent was to help women express themselves. So, I worked with women for two years, helping them explore themselves through writing. But even that wasn’t exactly it because I love working with men, as well. I love men’s voices, as much as I love women’s.

It took me a year longer to realize that my intent was to explore, nurture and open Voice, whether on a personal, group or global level. You see, setting intent doesn’t mean saying that you want a specific job in a specific city with a specific amount of money. It means getting to the core of who you are, opening to the universe, and allowing the universe to give you what you need for your greatest and highest good, and for the greatest and highest good of everyone else.

When I got to Voice, I knew I had it. Here’s why. Intent has to do with everything you’ve always been. I’ve always been interested in voice. When I was a child, I wanted to hear everyone’s stories. I mean, I truly wanted to hear their voice in their stories and how they thought and perceived the world. I liked the eccentricities of different voices and viewpoints – because fundamentally I believe deep down we’re all eccentric, quirky, fascinating.

And voice was important to me throughout the years. A lot of my friends have been professional singers. As a journalist, I was interested in voices all over the world. What story did the Japanese have, what about the becak driver in Indonesia? What is the British voice? What is the Jamaican voice in Britain? The Guyanan?

I’m now living in Budapest, and I came here wanting to know what is the voice of Eastern Europe, of the Hungarian, or the Romanian?

It often takes the OPPOSITE happening to you for you to figure out who you are and what you believe. So, my move to Budapest has provided that opposite. The 50 years of Communist rule has squelched many voices, and even today there is the terror of speaking your truth. Speaking out equals death; and that energy is so prevalent even amongst the younger generation. But this is beginning to change; the Romanian film: 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS, just won the 2007 Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It is set in the last days of Communist rule in Bucharest, and tells the truth in fictious form of a woman who gets an abortion, which was illegal under Communist rule.

mural3-small.jpg
Mural detail

Still, emerging generations of young writers in the Eastern bloc are still struggling with finding their voice, of overcoming a legacy of oppression. You can feel that oppression in your bones, here.

All of this fear around truth, reminds me of growing up in Missouri, where I felt as a young girl I wasn’t allowed to speak my truth. By this I don’t mean tell the truth, I mean express my eccentricities, be seen and heard as a talented young artist, something that seemed impossible, because it put me too far outside of the expected role of wife and mother.

So, voice is not just a personal matter. It’s a global one. Where are women not allowed to speak in the world? How do societies worldwide squelch men’s voices with expectations that require them to work such long hours, and be nothing but a provider, and not the dynamic quirky souls they really are?

What about the U.S.? What voices are squelched there?

When you set intent, it opens a box that takes you from your personal struggle, to a national understanding, to the international stage. Then even the struggle becomes dynamic and interesting.

www.artofstorytellingonline.com

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