Seven Voices

There are seven voices that in idle moments infiltrate your brain. Each voice provides a kind of punctuation; an idea pops into your mind and you’re tickled with a mellifluous whisper. But other times when you don’t want to listen, the internal voice has to shout to make itself heard. And then, in quiet moments, there’s that niggling voice that’s lurking in the background, not necessarily with encouraging tones. But the worrying voice, oh hear, you won’t hear the last of it.

The first voice has been with you since childhood. In a good moment, it will sing that song, that oh-so-catchy song, over and over and over … But more often, this is the voice you don’t usually want to hear, because it sounds like your mother telling you not to, don’t do it, stop this right now, like a voice that’s escaped from a cage inside your head and now you’ll have to escort it back there.

Voice two provides a commentary on the mundanity of your life. You know what you’re doing because Voice Two is giving you a blow-by-blow commentary, putting action into words. It’s like living with the subtitles turned on. And you notice if there’s a lag, because you’re not sure what comes first, whether it’s the words or an afterthought arriving a moment after your muscles got their act together. Did I just say that? I think it’s time to move on.

The third voice you think is mocking you, but in fact is reporting a desirability. Or is that a futility? Some words tumble their enunciations, talk to fluff and crumble motive. They set off with good intent but become airsick or earphobic and you find yourself in the malapropist junkshop, wondering why people just can’t say what they mean or mean what they say oh what the hell.

Rare is the fourth, the voice of wisdom. Not a voice you can call upon, even in a time of need. It’s elusive, and unbidden, it’s there when it thinks you need it. Sometimes unrecognised, maybe with just a small idea for seeding a greater wisdom, a piece of wisdom that will deliver you from evil, get you out of jail free, or sow the seeds of a primrose path.

Voice five is that laggard, the whisper of the esprit d’escalier, the witty rejoinder, the devastating riposte … It’s the voice that didn’t make it in time, but arrived later when on the stair or in the car, or in that moment your head hit the pillow. I wish I’d thought of that.

Number six will tell you stories, recite poems, remember obscure quotations – a line from Shakespeare or from Winnie-the-Pooh. Yes, learning by heart did work, and it’s now a true companion, a ready reference, and a speaker with a voice of authority. Because when I use it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.

And soft, susurrus Seven is the voice of silence. It’s the sound of the kettle you forgot to turn on; it’s the noise the tight-lipped pages of a book make when they are stacked on the shelf, the sound of restless words and sentences waiting to be read into life. This voice is full of potential as yet unrealised. So take a moment, and listen.


© 2018 Peter Young


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