I was in the middle of a good catch-up text session with a dear long time friend from MN the other night when I realized how easy it is for the things I say to sound like catch phrases and trendy self-help lines I might find tucked inside my Chinese take-out desert.
“Things happen as we walk the road towards them…”
“Take risks, do what you love, and don’t compromise. One step at a time…”
“I’m not in a rush to claim more than life has to teach me.”
I suppose in any regular face-to-face conversation, these might be taken at face value and as wise words, however in the context of text messaging (and probably emailing, blogging, or small talk), I was rolling my eyes at myself.
My roommates used to say I was an old man in a young man’s body. That probably had to do with my enjoyment of smoking a pipe, reading old smelly books in rocking chairs, and watching birds. Another friend recently told me my sweater looked like something Mr. Rogers would wear. As a trained spiritual director at 31, I have to be aware of what I say. The things that come out of my mouth may not have the same weight as if I had a bit more gray hair or more wrinkles. Gravitas comes with age… try putting that one in a fortune cookie.
I am trying to surround myself with influence that encourages a bit more creativity and originality to my voice. Swearing helps too.
A mentor of mine has, in the last 10 years or so, started simply going by “…parker” and hosts pub conversations called The Shepherd and the Knucklehead (or the Knuckle and the ShepherdHead, as I call it after a few beers). He uses periods between words and joins them together in ways that are sometimes near incomprehensible. He writes things like,
heyNate.. scratch.the.itch.. that is living into the fire.. might get hot.. white hot.. whewBoy
.you must “take” time.. the thread is yet thinner. SundayAM.. Wanna talk..
You get the idea. Anne Lamott, who I love, writes about working through anger:
At times like these, I believe, Jesus rolls up his sleeves, smiles roguishly, and thinks, “This is good.” He lets me get nice and crazy, until I can’t take my own thinking and solution for one more moment. The next morning, I got on my knees and prayed, “Please, please help me. Please let me feel You while I adjust to not getting what I was hoping for.” And then I remembered Rule 1: When all else fails, follow instructions. And Rule 2: Don’t be an asshole. (from Plan B)
This is influence I can use. I’m finding my voice… In fact, I’ve probably already found it. A bit quirky at times, maybe sounding like something an old man would say sometimes, probably some good swear words thrown in there. But my own. I wouldn’t really fit in a fortune|cookie. I don’t like them that much anyway.
One thought on “Starting to Sound like a Fortune Cookie”
Love this post Nate. I think finding(or, really, trusting) one’s own voice can be a real challenge. I know I also face the “fortune cookie cliche” syndom myself sometimes. I find myself saying things that to me have lot of depth, but to other people might just come off as… well, trite would be a good word to start with.
The interesting thing I’ve found is that the further I get on this journey, the more profound simple statements are. “We’re all one,” used to just sound like some hippy-dippy garbage. Now I’m starting to grasp some of the ways that statement is actually a really profound and useful statement about creation.
So, now I say things like that with the full conviction of how I currently understand them, and I imagine many people thing I’m the hippy-dippy one. 🙂