Four and a half years ago, I lost my voice. At first I thought seasonal allergies had gotten to me, as happens from time to time. But the season passed and the hoarseness got worse. I couldn’t sing at all, and it took great effort to speak. I was advised to "rest my voice” as much as possible (i.e., talk only when essential)—no singing along to music in the car, no conversations at social gatherings, very limited phone calls. For months I walked around with a small LED chalkboard so I could write down what I needed to communicate. I saved my voice for my kids and for work. During the most intensive stretch of my vocal rest, I spent seven days not talking at a yoga retreat in California. It was sort of like a silent retreat, except that I was the only one in silence. I brought my little chalkboard with me, but mostly I listened to the conversations that were happening around me and within me. I found that even in my silence, I could be felt and heard. Over the months of vocal rest, I often turned inward and tuned to ways of connecting with people that were beyond my imagination. I learned that there are so many powerful ways of communicating and forming deep connections that don’t involve speech, or even words. Over time, my vocal cords healed, and I grew my capacity to listen with my heart. Same Heart (from Brainstorms) I’ve heard that cells from the same heart beat in time, even when separated by a hundred miles. I picture you, squinting barefoot at the sea, blues and greens reflected in your hopeful eyes, your crooked smile almost lost in a parenthetical embrace as your bare arms stretch upward to greet the morning sun. Do I read your mind as I lift my morning cup to meet my lips and remember the time you told me your truth? Is it the flutter in your stomach I feel when I wake from a deep and dreamless sleep, unsure of where to begin? What thread is there that connects your heart to mine, wispy strands beyond visible, yet bearing some thing that no earthly fiber could hold? Because though your heart beats a thousand miles away from mine, Our feet fall in step as we walk along distant shores.
Watch this video to hear my reading of "Same Heart."