“If you stop and listen long enough,

you will hear your own small voice”

-Don Henley, Little Tin God      

One thing my medication regimen affords me is the first hour of each day for a cup of coffee (or three), a cigar and an hour of reflection. On a good morning, my hour stretches to two hours. May not sound like much but its life changing- at least it changed my life.

The morning is when I listen to my own small voice.

Time is one thing we never get back and, if there is an upside to a cancer diagnosis, it becomes the most precious gift. How we choose to use it is very intimate.

Lately, my time has been consumed by negative noise and chatter- I’ll admit I allowed it.  Aside from making me want to scream, it caused me to lose sight of my mission.

This morning I decided not to waste any more time and energy in futility. Youth and our future are on my mind.

Today, I took the opportunity to listen to an interview at https://www.onlifeandmeaning.com/podcast-episodes/lila-allen. Lila is the daughter of close friends and a very articulate and thoughtful young woman. I would encourage everyone to spend 45 minutes listening to her. Whether the subject matter is of interest to you or not, one of the bright voices for our future speaks loudly and clearly.

I also took time to review some of my son’s writing, noticing a shared passion not only for design but the human impact of design. His medium is jewelry, but his interest is in the people who value it, not in monetary terms, but for its artistic or aesthetic value. He too will leave his mark on the world.

I am constantly encouraged by my Facebook friends who celebrate their children’s accomplishments- I know it’s trite but they are our future. We need to support them, we need to know about them.

Ten years ago, a skinny 22-year-old with crazy hair entered my life. His hair is not a statement, it is a by-product of multiple cowlicks. Tyler instantly became one of my best friends and I love him dearly. We have traveled together extensively, shared many meals and some wicked hangovers. I was present when he met his wife-to-be, Kaity, and I was included in their wedding this spring. Tyler comes with a large package of family and friends who have welcomed me with open arms. I suppose we are an odd pair from the outside looking in, but he is serious, thoughtful and wise beyond his years. Kaity is a fabulous addition to the family and she fusses over me when I let her, it is flattering.

Shortly after meeting Tyler, I met Erin. She too is one of my best friends and a sounding board for my relationship woes plus we enjoy frequent rambling conversations on many deep subjects. Erin slipped easily into my world- she is smart, kind and driven. In the interim years, she went back to school, earned a law degree and joined a well-established firm where she is making valuable contributions. She met Rob, her husband-to-be, during her law school years and I was fortunate enough to be included their wedding last fall.

All of us remain close. These young people are smart, driven, compassionate and successful. I am the fifth wheel at our dinners and gatherings where we get a few questioning looks but it doesn’t seem odd to us- except when someone asks whose father I am…

If pressed for an answer, I would say I am proud to claim any or all of them as my own.

Not long ago, I quit reading the news. It isn’t news, it is vacuous sensationalism with dark implication. Reality TV is equally dangerous- there is nothing “real” about it. Research on the impact of social media on child and adolescent development is scary. The entertainment industry glorifies and promotes violence. Each of these negatively impact young minds who are forming their world view- collectively, the damage is monumental to some and cannot be ignored.

Note the spate of school shootings and suicides. Why do more than a few young people feel disenfranchised? What are our academic institutions promoting (not teaching)? What does our political environment say about our values? Why are we trying to erase God and religion from our daily lives in our schools and public buildings?

All of which brings me back to my point- there is a wealth of bright, well-adjusted young people who can and do have positive impact on our lives- but we are forced to search them out. We must find a way to celebrate their contributions and give them a mainstream voice. I named a few, I know a lot.

For me, the most important aspect of social media is it gives us all a voice- let’s use it to promote good, not perpetuate hate and ignorance.

It is time for our generation to step up and lead. Our collective wisdom is particularly valuable as we have lived yet another quantum leap in technology but were exposed to the “old ways”. Our grandparents saw the advent of the automobile, air travel and space travel. What will our children experience?

Take an interest in a young person. Help them navigate today’s environment. Celebrate their successes.

Stop and listen to your own small voice- it speaks more loudly than you think.


4 thoughts on “Voices

  • Clay, I feel like our generation has made a terrible hash of the world and have gotten order of importance in this world inverted. Sick of millennial trashing. I am praying they can salvage the mess we are leaving. And thx for the Lila shout out. Of course I think she’s pretty great too!

    • I would not argue with you about our generation, except to say that the “silent” ones need to find their voice.

  • Beautifully said! Thank you! This summer, my Stormwater artist community held an art camp for middle and high schoolers. I taught Mindful Mandalas. Though I worried the process might not be quite “sexy” enough for them, I was determined to open them up to a visual art practice that slowed them down so they could begin to cultivate a relationship with their “still small voice.” I wanted to give them a quiet place to turn to when the noise of the world gets too loud and overwhelming. These young tender souls fell right into creating these meditative mandala drawings and many came back during their lunch break to rest within this creative process. It’s a crazy complicated, fast paced, frenzied world we live in and I’m committed to trying to slow my world down and stay in touch with what really matters. My art practice has always helped me do that and I hope in some small way it encourages others to find their own quieting spiritual practices.

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