“One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the seatown corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep . . .” (Dylan Thomas).
LIKE THEIR SMILES, THE VOICES OF OTHERS IMPRINT THEMSELVES UPON OUR HEARTS. The memory of a distant voice can connect us to the past in a way more powerful than almost anything else. To hear someone’s voice, either actually or in memory, is to go through an open door. Voices are sensuous portals through which we pass into the wide realm of hope, imagination, and shared values.
It is truly fascinating to think about the rich variety of voices that there are in the world. There are booming bass voices and shiny soprano ones. Some voices are gravelly while others are silky. One person’s voice tends to excite while that of another person tends to soothe. Each of these has its place in the world. Each is needed. And just as we need to pay more attention to the texture of things we touch, we’d do well to be more interested in the voices we hear. Like many other physical things, voices were meant to be relished. We miss much of the interest of daily living when we hear other human beings speak without savoring the unique timbre of their voices.
With what kind of voice do you speak to those you live and work with? In truth, each of us is responsible for what is normally called our “tone” of voice. If, for example, a kind tone of voice is needed but we speak with a cruel tone, we are responsible. Or if we use an impatient voice when a longsuffering voice would do more good, we have no one to blame but ourselves. In every situation, we must accept responsibility for the manner in which we use our voices.
It’s also a fact, however, that even the physical characteristics of our voices come, over time, to be a reverberation of our character. Just as our faces eventually come to reflect what’s going on inside us, so do our voices. So there’s a sense in which the way to have a more pleasing voice is not to take voice lessons but to improve our character.
Our voices bear the stamp of our individuality, and crafting a worthy voice is one of life’s better endeavors. So, again, what kind of voice do you have? And to what benefit are you letting it be heard?
“The voice is a second face” (Gérard Bauër).