That which I have learned through involuntary silence

I’ve been unable to speak since Tuesday morning.  I’ve been getting over a rough cold I’ve had for the past week, and while my body has started to feel better, I’ve completely lost my voice.  It’s been a little rough, having to sit and observe in certain classes, unable to participate.  I’ve never lost my voice for more than a day before, and while it has been remarkably inconvenient, I’ve noticed a few things.

  • There are some things completely outside of my control.  One of the main tenets of the work we’re doing in class is the ability to surrender, to stop controlling and shaping and instead just let things be as they are.  It’s something I’ve struggled with both in acting as well as my personal life for a while.  I’m really uncomfortable with the idea of having no personal agency in something, of being helpless to influence circumstances which directly affect me.  Being physically unable to speak has forcibly humbled me and made me face the idea that there are some things I cannot achieve through sheer force of will.  I can’t force myself to let go, I just have to, you know, let go. Or something.
  • When there’s no narrative coming from my mouth, I’m much more aware of the narrative occurring in my head.  Negative self talk, judgements on myself and others, things I’m normally not aware of as I go through the day.  Fantasizing and projecting how things should be rather than where I actually am.
  • How incredibly hard it is to learn lines when I can’t hear myself say them.
  • Because I’ve been unable to talk, I’ve been listening to everything more intently.  I’m less thinking on how I’m going to respond to another person and waiting for my chance to interject, and instead just going over to the other person.  This has been especially evident in the contact exercises in movement class.  There’s a huge capacity for voiceless dialogue, for spontaneous non-prescribed action that can organically arrive.  It’s really difficult for me to trust in that, but the moments I’ve been able to just let things happen have been some of the strongest I’ve had since beginning the program.
  • The importance of tone.  Again, this comes from having to listen.  I’m one of the louder people in class, so things have been a bit quieter.  People have been cracking jokes because honestly, yeah, it’s pretty funny.  But the tone in which something is said is so much more resonant than the words themselves.  For example, I’ve had two people make Helen Keller references.  One was funny and good natured, the other was derisive, if not outright malicious.  The same words, completely different feelings.  I think that there’s often a lack of awareness (at least for me) of tone, hoping that the words I say carry the meaning, but so much is subtext.
  • Patience.  Soooo much patience. That I don’t have.
  • The importance of just showing up.  I mean, I went to voice class today.  I have no voice, but I went to voice class.  I still was able to learn something re: the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) work we’ve been doing.
  • How much I can communicate with body language.  Did not expect to be able to have as much of a dialogue as I’ve been able to.  It’s interesting.

That’s about it.  I pick up practice high heels tomorrow for The Miss Longview Texas Drag Pageant, talk about humility.  We’ll see how it goes!