I started 2019 with a shared desire that we communicate using beautiful words in our relationships. I continue this personal journey through aspects of compassionate communication reflecting on the human voice, because it seems to me that it is going through rough times and needs some attention and affection.
Wikipedia explains very well why the voice is an extraordinary ability of human beings. To start with, it enables us to use verbal language, which resists as one of the pillars of human life since the beginning of times. Being one of our most unique characteristics, it turns out that voice is intimately linked to our personality, affectivity and sensitivity. That is why we recognize a person, among all others, especially by his/her voice.
In my opinion, the human voice enters in its own right in the category of miracle, above all because it is the most faithful expression of our individuality and of our deepest essence.
With this ability that the voice has to communicate from the depths of each one, it does not surprise us then that some of us get wet eyes with the vocal virtuosity of a lyrical singer interpreting our favorite aria. Or that to others, the voice of our most beloved being seems as the best home on the planet.
So yes, I am one of those who believes that our voice can work wonders. And I found a quote from Sigmund Freud that says it beautifully:
“Modern science has not yet produced a reassuring drug
as effective as kind words. “
However, for some time now I have observed how this reassuring medication, a miracle that we (almost) all have, is today a downward value. Have we become somewhat lazy in its use, or does that seem only to me? I will use two close examples to illustrate my observation.
My brother is a music teacher. He explains that 3 of his youngest students, 6-7 years old, have told him that it is now Alexa -the last gadget from Amazon -who reads them the stories at home. I’m out of breath for a few seconds. I check and re-check that he does not tease me. What comes out first is a deep “bffffff”. And the second that comes out is a rant about the importance of mom or dad taking that time to read the stories, because it is one of those unique moments of true paternal/maternal-filial proximity, one of the few remaining, and how is it possible that even this is changing and that blah blah blah, and I continue until I finish with an expected “because if not even this little oral tradition is maintained, then turn off and let’s go”.
And I write this with some prudence because I am not here to judge anyone, our modern life is already quite difficult. But I confess that I was sad. For the kids, basically. Because if I dare to put myself minimally catastrophic, what I see is another battle they have lost. And they have lost a few already in the last years. Talk to teachers about the number of children and young people who are (and feel) alone having a family. But here I close this issue, so as not to divert the subject.
I go with the second example, which I draw from my recent birthday. As I have already observed the little desire that we all have for using the phone to talk with the person on the other side, I bet with the same brother that on my “special day” they would not call me to talk, congratulate me using voice, more than 5 people. He considered my bet too optimistic. His was that I would have maximum, maximum, but really maximum, 3 calls.
Guess which of the two won?
Some clue: they say that I am more than sociable and I am always connected with someone. In addition, I am part of a large family on all sides. So yes, as you imagine I received many congratulations via all possible digital means. But what about calls, those where you talk and you listen to the other’s voice for a while? Well 3. So, I lost the bet.
And I’m not scolding or complaining. Those who congratulated me remotely: it was fantastic that you remembered me and I do not question any affection here! Sincere thanks to all! What I share is the reflection that, to many, me included, comfort seems to be gaining, even in the familiar moments of reading stories or specials such as birthdays.
I also note that this comfort seems to grow larger every year, because with each new Alexa and other virtual assistants, they promise us to make our lives easier thanks to their vocal skills – ironies of life! -, and we are losing humanity by the seams, in addition to many other capacities (but this is another matter).
And then an interview to the head of the “Hope Phone” comes to my mind, which told the story of an old lady who had called them “simply” to share that the stew of that day came out very tasty. She had no one else to tell … More than 113,000 calls were answered by this phone in 2018 in Spain, 11% because of “loneliness and isolation”. I will not expand here, but this chronification of loneliness in our society not only affects the elderly. Recent statistics from this service show that calls from teens and children have doubled.
I do not know if it is necessary to underline here that the voice, our human voice in action to communicate, to interact, can alleviate much of this loneliness. I ask because it seems that IKEA, Ruavieja and other brands have to come to remind us how important human interaction, words and voice has always been, for Mediterranean cultures but really for all. (Great TV adds, by the way, I congratulate the creatives who read reality so well.)
I’ll finish with some light. And for that I return to the day of my birthday, in which I had been reflecting for some time on the subject that concerns us here. That day I had to take a plane for work issues. Already in my seat, I was a little downcast: the day ended and I had “only”received 2 calls, so my bet was in danger. Suddenly, the lady sitting on my right took her phone in a hurry to call someone – we were already about to take off-, and when the person at the other side answered, she said enthusiastically “Happy birthday!”.
I swear: that’s how it was.
Wonderful moment. Although I felt like a loudmouth. A smile escaped me, and also a little tear, why not admit it. I got emotional; I think because of the opportune wink. Life is usually great at throwing us winks just when we need them.
And with this, I continue with my shared wishes for this 2019: let it be a prodigal year of good, beautiful and, above all, human conversations. And may your voice, that of each one, effortlessly transmit your essence.