We Want to Be Heard

The following is part of my September BIG QUESTION series, asking “What Does America Want?”. Thanks for thinking, asking, answering, and reading.

A big mouth asks, timidly: Can you hear me now?The therapist tells me that I shout because I want to be heard.

I don’t feel heard.

Therapists are good like that: noticing the target painted on our chests.

Communal Shouting

But isn’t that therapist saying something which is true of all of us? (I’m not trying to deflect here, really. Well, maybe… that’s for another session.)

The pioneers and pilgrims — those white Americans we tend to identify as our “ancestors” — weren’t getting heard. Their needs weren’t getting met. So they pushed on to the next destination. To places wider and opener and “freer”.

Maybe they thought the wide open space around them would cure the angst and desires of their hearts.

Maybe they thought their problems and anxieties of finding a home for their beliefs would blow out in the prairie winds.

Maybe they thought being “new in town” would erase them of their old attachments and labels. In their new country, they’d be cleared of old ideas people had about them, of an identity crisis they carried around. They could sing once again.

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Time passes. We are pioneers of the new, virtual frontier and it is endless and empty and ripe for filling up with our voices. No one knows us. No one has any idea who we are. We are brand new. Our brand is new.

At first, aren’t we are the chickadee singing mindlessly? Singing because we’re happy and because the sun came out and warmed us and because we feel unfettered?

But, like always, the awareness seeps in. We see others courting others and followers creeping up like cult-love. Everyone has some advice for someone on something to make us better, faster, and more.  So, we feel our tiny size again. The noise and the chaos deflates us.

Suddenly we are Buzz Lightyear, turning the corner in the toy aisle to face thousands of faces exactly like our own. And maybe even better versions of ourselves.

We Want to Be Heard

Once upon a time, we journaled on a piece of paper, in a book that never left our side. Just a journal to keep track of the day and its mundanity. Friends seen, dinners eaten, seasons changing.

Then, we wrote letters to friends and family faraway, just to keep their memory firm. They replied, a long time later.

Then the electricity came and made our lives “easier.” It moved everything and everyone around faster. In the noise, we spotted everything we desired and chased it. Meanwhile, friends rushed away with time. No one stopped to hear anything anymore.

Between all the new conversations, we wait alone. We wait alone, in the company of our passions and fears. It’s the alone we are interested in sharing, eradicating, comprehending. It’s the alone we notice and try not to notice.

So, then we shout or drink and then shout. Because want to be heard. We are pilgrims in a wild frontier, uncertain of the path into the forest of tomorrow.

I wish others would hear me. I shout imperfectly, because I am unsure of my footing and myself.

I think I am not alone.

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