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Every Voice but My Own

Sheltering in place has me scrolling social media, curating Pinterest boards for homes I do not own, shopping for items I will not buy, and reading articles on topics I am not particularly interested in – anyone care to discuss the parasitic symbiosis of a fish and a creature that eats and then becomes its tongue, feeding on the fish’s blood supply until death, neither creature seemingly harmed by the relationship?

This information while relevant to those studying marine biology or fascinated by fish and wildlife, which I suppose now includes me, may have use for this data. I on the other hand, do not. Yet, I start investigating what this means for my future in underwater discovery and research. I just wanted a distraction, not a new life’s purpose, but this is where I am in life. Any opportunity that reeks of change, purpose, excitement beyond these four walls is calling to me. I am desperate for adventure and any piper with a tune I am following.

I’m reading books on flight, Africa, and adventure. The inspiration is mounting but there is little room for expression. This summer I took a painting class and was delighted with the results. Now that we’re spiking I am cozy at home but desperate for an opportunity to put my creative mind to work.

So what am I doing? What meaning can I make of this research that seems to have no purpose but distraction? I am going to choose to look at this as an opportunity. I will consider this time my hibernation period. “Nothing blooms all year,” and the whole idea that we must rest in order to recover. And we are recovering from consumerism, peer pressure, and the endless news cycle. I have a neighbor whose television is on the entire time he is awake, he is constantly distracted and perhaps he believes himself to be informed. I know this because gazing out the window is another fruitless activity I have taken up in the absence of personal obligations and to-do items. 

But here’s this, I don’t have to wallow, and I don’t have to christen or anoint myself in the wave of other people’s thoughts. I do not have to scroll or be bombarded by the information that though available brings no value into my life. I have begun my process for 2021 resolutions. It has included curating my Pinterest goals and eliminating every fleeting suggestion – chakras, townhouses in DC, etc. – is being ruthlessly and intentionally cut out. 

Because here’s the deal, social media and mindless entertainment are a lot like that parasitic creature. They devour our tongues and replace them with their own. Our ideas are translated into meme’s that someone else created and while they do not match exactly our interpretations of the world, they are close enough that we allow them to suffice. And without opportunity to deliberately reflect on our own experiences, our imaginings and thoughts are overwhelmed by the screaming voice of the media we consume. Some days the ideas of others comfort and console us, other times as now when I feel compelled to scroll multiple times a day there is no new information only wallowing. The symbiotic relationship is not working for this fish.

Therefore I am embracing the inspiration – travel to Africa and Alaska remain, but the various other topics and ideas that do not spark joy or interest when I revisit their links will be cut. I am making space for my own voice, for the song my heart is singing, for the ideas still percolating in my mind. It is informative to learn about new topics but I am releasing myself from the obligation to scroll for news articles, or the approval of other voices to bolster my still fledgling opinions or ideas. Today I will paint and I will create. I will use my time to write this piece rather than reading someone else’s. And I will listen to the silence, my own still small voice and hope in the quiet it will finally have the courage to sing.

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