Everything in nature expresses itself naturally. Water flows to the sea, winds wail through crevices in the canyon, flowers unfurl to the sun, and rocks sing into the night under a canopy of stars. Humans, in our at times unnatural self-consciousness, often have a conflicted relationship with self-expression, with the simple and natural expression of being. With our own voice.
Some sectors of society would silence the voice of others, as seen in recent arrests of Myanmar celebrities speaking out against the military coup. Freedom of expression is a hotly contested concept in democracies and dictatorships alike. Liberation itself is often linked to the capacity to voice one’s opinions, to author one’s own stories, to represent one’s own realities through self-expression.
Taboos too, societal conventions and norms, often suppress an otherwise free-flowing form of selfhood. Boys should not cry and girls should not dictate. For example. But who would tell the moon not to wax and wane, the sun not to shine?
How do you flow and what is the nature of your voice? What is the consequence of inhibition? And of freedom?
Many years ago I studied Aikido, a form of Japanese martial arts developed in the 20th century by Ueshiba Morihei. One of the exercises I practiced was “kiai”, which is to shout when delivering a strike. For a girl turned woman who had been taught to never “raise her voice”, learning how to shout was extremely difficult. It felt as though I’d been told to sing underwater without drowning, or to open a sealed iron vault without touching it. Psychosomatically, I could not yell. But eventually, my small whimper of a kiai turned into a proper, loud, strongly voiced shout. I would like all women to preserve the raw, naked, life-affirming and powerful cry they came into the world with. Voicelessness, at times, is deadly.
This is my voice. Writing and poetry. A dance, and survival. Like fire, I want my body to burn bright. To shine in the darkness.