Saturday, April 3, 2010

A voice of your own.

Just back from a week in England’s green and pleasant land, Mary Oliver’s The Journey is still with me:

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world

The year is nineteen seventy four, winter is but scattered patches of snow on wet, brown grass. I am leaning out of a classroom window, breathing the air of spring. And freedom. For school is coming to an end, and so are years of compulsory education, of doing the expected. Suddenly I am the one to decide what to do with the rest of my life.

Or am I? What exactly is for me to decide, and what is this me anyway? What is my own voice and what are the echoes of parents, teachers, peers, culture, tradition?

“What are your plans, then?”
A friend is standing next to me, our school day is dedicated to our future.
“I just need to cross a border,” I say, “I need to go somewhere completely different.”

I had no idea what I meant, there was just this undefined longing.

Five months later I am in another classroom, in green and pleasant England. Upon my arrival, I felt the country had opened its arms to greet me. As if I had come back to a place that was mine from the very start.

As if the country had a voice of its own. A voice that spoke into my ear. And my heart. A voice that lead me to recognize my own. Though only slowly. Slowly.