Thursday, July 31, 2008

Finding your voice

This week I am reading Jon Kabat-Zinn's exposition on different approaches to meditation: mountain meditation, lake meditation, walking meditation... There are lots of alternatives to the way I currently engage in my daily practice.

At the same time I am struggling with this warrior queen, Hippolyta. Final dress rehearsal is tomorrow night, and she seems to be having problems finding her voice. So I look at each of these ways of meditating, and wonder if there might be something I could do from a meditative perspective that would put a little more oomph into my characterization of Hippolyta.

Because -- as you might imagine, given that I am a rather contemplative soul -- I am pretty soft-spoken. It hasn't been an issue on stage before (I now realize) because always before I was playing character parts with strong accents -- New Jersey or British for the most part -- and for some reason it's easier to raise the volume when the voice is not my own.

But Hippolyta's voice, as a gym teacher in the 50s (and I picture her as a midwesterner, for some reason) is not that far from mine, and is thus harder to project.

Working through this problem this morning, I found myself thinking of a bumper sticker I saw when I was wrestling with the worst parts of my last job. It read "Silence is the Voice of Complicity." After seeing that bumper sticker, I realized that if I didn't speak up about all the hypocrisy that was going on around me at work then it could appear I was condoning it, and so I began finding what one friend referred to as my "prophetic voice." But of course, prophets are never very popular folk, so, though I felt better about myself, I found myself in a rather unpleasant role I hadn't actually auditioned for.

Perhaps the lesson here it is not that I can't find my voice, but that I am only capable of being loud on behalf of others. But maybe it's only that it is hard for me to be loud in one aspect of this particular role. Like the child in this picture I have no trouble being loudly angry or upset, which Hippolyta can be sometimes without uttering a word. But to be loudly romantic is a new challenge for me, and I obviously haven't mastered that one yet.

I will work on thinking of myself as a lake or a mountain, tapping into all the strength and resources that lie beneath the surface of my character. And maybe if I breathe in for all the women who have trouble finding their voices, I will breathe out the voice I find within on behalf of them all.

Yet another opportunity for learning!

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