I’ve had a cough for two weeks. I’m ok as long as I don’t speak, laugh, exert any energy or inhale too deeply. Basically, I don’t cough as long as I sit still and keep quiet. Funny that was my mothers mantra as I grew up; ‘Sit still and be quiet! Children should be seen and not heard!’ For two weeks I’ve been quiet. Real quiet. Uncharacteristically quiet. It was the only way I could keep from having coughing fits that lasted several minutes and took my breath away. But in every cloud there is a silver lining and this was no exception to that rule. It is amazing what I have learned in the silence of the past two weeks.
I went to see my daughter, Aubry in The Marvelous Wonderettes, a very very funny and entertaining play. She was hysterical. Normally I would have been laughing the loudest, however this time I had to hold back my laughter for fear I’d start coughing and interrupt her performance. In the process I heard something I’ve never really heard before. I heard the people around me enjoying my daughters antics. That was pure joy. They loved her. The lady next to me must have been brought up the same way that I was because she kept putting her hand over her mouth to stop the laughter. The four actors on the stage made it impossible for her to contain herself. At one point my daughter fell backwards into the set with microphone in hand in a glorious prat fall. It was pure physically comedy at it’s best. The stranger next to me said out loud, “Oh she’s a riot. She’s just like Lucy!” Any other time I would have proudly let her know that was my daughter, but this time I simply smiled and nodded in agreement. In my mind I agreed with her. My daughter is Lucy ReCardo reincarnated on that stage.
My silence gave me an opportunity to really experience the impact my daughter has on the people in her audience. She moves them. They connect with her. They love her. For over twenty years I’ve watched my daughter on the stage. I’ve been proud of her. I’ve been amazed at her talent but never before had I realized the way she effortlessly transported her audience to another time and place and engulfed them in her story. It was magnificent.
Earlier in the week I had to go to a meeting where normally I have a very constant and prominent voice. This time I sat quietly and listened to others offer their opinions. Many times during the meeting I wanted to interject and add some important information, correct someone or make a comment. Fear of having another coughing episode, I kept quiet. It wasn’t easy for me. However, it caused me to listen more intently, to pay real attention to what others were saying, to give others the time to put their thoughts together and offer suggestions. I learned that when I give others a chance to share their ideas , they come up with some pretty good ones. I noticed two people in particular, who normally seem to be day dreaming during the meeting, had entirely different body language. Half way through they were leaning forward, seemed to be really listening to their co-workers. They were more involved simply because no one was dominated the conversation. Namely me! That was eye opening.
In my business my voice is my instrument. It’s how I make my income. I’d have no career with out my voice. In these few weeks of silence I’ve realized sometimes even the best of instruments can benefit from a bit of rest. And in the silence its amazing what you can not only hear, but see and feel as well.