Have you ever noticed how many wonderful words begin with the letter ‘p’?
There’s passion, purpose, playfulness, plentiful, potential, poetry, prayer, partnership, positive, peace. So many wonderful words.
Then there are the not so wonderful ‘p’ words. Psychosis, pneumonia, pseudo, ptosis, psoriasis, psittacism (yeah, I didn’t know what it meant, either). Notice what those have in common?
The ‘p’ is silent.
So I began to wonder—could we relate to the difference between the pronounced ‘p’ and the silent ‘p’? Could it be that, as years go by, through conditioning or neglect, so many of us lose touch with the things we feel passionate about is that we’ve learned over the years to silence them?
During my teens I wrote poetry. The ones I remember most vividly spoke about hope, love and possibilities (ah, another wonderful ‘p’ word!).
Then, as life began to present me with its inevitable challenges, disappointments and setbacks, my poems began to take on darker tones. I wrote of loss, frustration, heartbreak, disconnection. Eventually, I stopped writing them altogether.
Around that same time, I also began to lose sight of my dream to make a living as a freelance writer. Months would sometimes go by between one writing project and the next; attempts to submit my work or query ideas grew even more staggered. I left a trail of half-written stories in my wake, along with a few that I even finished, but that never saw the light of day.
After college I snapped up the first stable nine to five job I could latch onto and, relieved to receive a steady paycheck and benefits, I hardly even noticed as the dream faded. I had college loans to pay back, an apartment to furnish, a car to maintain and insure. I was living the dream, right? Never mind that it was not my own. My life seemed fine. My chosen path seemed safe. Most writers never make a living wage anyway…
My ‘p’ grew silent.
In Walden, Henry Thoreau famously wrote that most men “lead lives of quiet desperation.” A dismal worldview? Maybe…but look how it plays out in the “Thank God it’s Friday” existence that so many of us lead, lives where relaxation, adventure and fun are all packed into one or two weeks a year, or where we live vicariously through the success and joy of those who dared to do or be what we did not. These results stem from letting our ‘p’s’ go silent or, worse, by intentionally silencing them in order to gain the acceptance and approval of others, or through fear that we if we took a riskier path, we might fail.
I’m trying to decide how to bring this post to an optimistic close. The fact is, I continue to cling to the safe and familiar, and still need the approval of others more than I care to admit. So it’s not like I am a shining example of self-actualization.
But I guess simply being aware of that is a start. That’s the optimistic closing I was looking for and would like to share here because, as I am beginning to learn through the reading and exercises I’ve been doing lately, awareness changes everything. The first step in solving a dilemma is admitting that the dilemma exists.
Time to take the next step. Care to join me?