By Larry Feinstein
Recently, the idea of voice has felt like it is at the head of the line. Not too long after finishing the last piece around two weeks ago, I was in the midst of my morning Zen sit. I thought about the story of finding my voice, as far as this discipline of filling a page with words is concerned, sometimes called writing.
As I have gotten older, I’ve been seeking symmetry in my life, reaching out for all those disparate elements, bringing them together into a package, resembling who I finally want to become. It’s like playing every instrument in the orchestra, finally earning the privilege to step up to the podium. You reach for the baton and create the best piece of music you could possibly imagine. There are no encores in life, so I am trying to make my signature masterpiece.
By the way, it’s a Friday morning and music will provide a perfect segue for moving on. I was finishing the above paragraph, thinking it was time for a quick sidebar and The Doors started pumping through my speakers, singing Texas Radio and the Big Beat. I suppose I could write in silence if I had to, but music has always been a magic carpet ride for my soul. The noise of stupid distractions are muted, the endless barrage of facts fall to the floor and slide away under the door. Then, it’s just me and my perfect partner.
I want to tell you briefly about a blinding, bright flash I had in the midst of my baton tapping, two paragraphs above. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined my life at this very moment. Approaching the close of 2018, I am standing around in running shorts, a real computer on the desk, with the beginnings of a story I am actually writing. I am living on Kaua‘i. I am 73 years old and we can’t forget the long hair and earring. One of the coolest things is I have absolutely nothing to do today, other than getting Drano for the kitchen sink and a bottle of wine for dinner. Up here, on the podium, the view is unbelievable.
Back to the libretto of my life, this particular chapter starting on the cushion. The whole idea of finding my voice began with getting a makau, a Hawaiian bone-carved fishing hook. A good friend had it made for my grandson’s second birthday, not terribly practical giving a little one a sharp hook. Clearly, it would have to wait. It temporarily sits on my altar, waiting for a safe time. I’m thinking Bar Mitzvah, primarily because it has this story around it.
I initially thought about framing it and giving to him, avoiding the poke-your-eye-out possibility.
My same friend suggested writing a letter to him, sequestering it behind the framed hook. Well, what the heck would I put in a letter? Setting the stage, this took place around seven years ago. It was at the very beginning of my symmetry search, a symptom of the encroaching years. There was also no need to look at actuarial tables to determine I wasn’t going to be around his life forever.
At some point, I threw away the idea of a letter and began to fantasize about writing him a memoir of sorts. Trust me, I was in way over my head, but let me know a more potent force in life than love? I had no voice, wanting with all my heart to tell my story, but I couldn’t even write the first sentence.
Smack in the middle of this, I found myself in Portland, Ore., watching a film, Rum Dairies, starring Johnny Depp. He was a Hunter S. Thompson character, a burnt out newspaper writer, pickled in rum, who finally finds his creative voice and is redeemed. You only have to read a paragraph of Thompson’s and you know you are dealing with a wild man, with incredible insights and a naked style of writing.
I had one of those moments and I knew it, because I always cry when I feel stunned, all tears and no words. I have been a fan of the Buddha for years, and he is all about softening life’s edges by going inside and finding the Middle Path. He embodies the podium for me, a kind of deep knowing, also with no words. It took a marvelously, crazy man to get my attention and the Buddha to ground me.
I had no idea where to find my voice until I realized it was always there. The voice from deep inside, filtered its way through every damn instrument in the orchestra and there was only one sound it could make. I want to thank you for listening to it.
Hunter S. Thompson
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