August 12 – To Live Out Loud – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“We are here to live out loud.” Emile Zola

Early on, we know enough to cry and sound our way into the world; this is the primary purpose of voicing ourselves. Whatever comes out becomes a lifeline, a vein of expression by which we affirm, again and again, that we are vital, a quickening part of all the majesty and variety of life.

But soon—perhaps in school, or at home, or when first venturing after a sense of love we somehow think is not within us—too soon, we start believing that we cry and sound in order to be heard. And everything changes.

Then we become anxious to be received, to be accepted, and approved. But imagine if birds only sang when heard. If musicians only played when approved of. If poets only spoke when understood.

There have been many times I’ve struggled through the expectation and disapproval of others to re-find my voice and rejoice as a living piece of things. Certainly, there is a particular joy and nourishment in being heard. But I have come to realize that sounding my way into the world, to express who I am, must always come first. Since wanting to be thought well of never goes away, I always have to keep the reactions of others at bay long enough for my voice to make it to the light.

I must tell you of an old man I know who came here from Italy. He’s spent his life working as a plumber. He is a good, sweet man, and when he laughs, which is often, he cries, no matter who’s around or whether or not anyone understands. He keeps his pipes clean. He lives out loud. Unknowingly, he has shown me how to love the world.

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