Over the past weeks as I’ve observed the horrors unfolding in Ukraine from the comfort of my sofa, my cosy bed, my safe, safe life, I have felt increasingly withdrawn. I’ve wanted to speak up but the words stuck in my throat – they didn’t seem to me to be enough or appropriate or proportionate.
The same was true for the Pandemic – fine to post photos of the beauty of nature perhaps or write about a lovely walk. Pictures of my sweet grandson or small family celebrations where we were able to come together and appreciate the importance of connection and closeness with loved ones. Even the odd wry self-mockery of me in my bedroom wondering about my bad hairstyle or weird zoom outfits – ok to add a bit of humour to an otherwise sombre time.
Encouraging others to be Out Loud? Speak up! Be yourself! Express yourself!
Really? Isn’t that all a bit unseemly or trivial?
How can we dance with abandon while others are living in such agony and suffering so horribly?
And yet, why am I feeling this so keenly at this particular moment in history?
People have always suffered … the whole time I was writing my book Live Out Loud – A Masterclass In Being Yourself, people were suffering, and yet I wrote it. And I celebrated it. And I was happy.
Ok, you could say then the suffering was not so close to home. But that wouldn’t be true either, the sad eyed man asking for change outside the Co Op, the painfully skinny lady talking to herself as she walks too fast up the road, the little girl pushing the pram containing her baby brother – isn’t she too young for that responsibility? That all takes place under my nose. And still I avert my eyes, feel guilty for a second and then go about my business.
Yet this morning I received a photo of my book from a lovely client who’s been reading it while on holiday in South Africa. It stopped me in my tracks and instead of thinking ‘Oh, no one wants to hear about being Out Loud right now’, I reminded myself that living Out Loud is not about being a noisy extrovert and dragging reluctant people up on to the stage for a good old sing song – although sometimes that’s exactly what’s required.
Neither is it about refusing to see what’s going on around you or being unaware of your own feelings.
On the contrary, Out Loud means to connect – deeply – to those feelings, listening to your heart and soul. Listening to your wise voice and asking yourself with compassion and integrity what needs to be heard right now.
It’s ok for your answer to be silence and quiet.
It’s ok for your answer to be meditation and reflection.
It’s ok for your answer to be prayer.
It’s ok for your answer to be tears and sadness.
It’s also ok to scream as loud as possible at the injustice of what’s going on.
To express your disgust and your wish for the end to suffering.
Or to listen deeply to what your voice is telling you to do. And to act upon it in whatever way feels right to you.
Living Out Loud means being called forth to be a human being in all your complexity, humanity and creativity and flaws. It’s about forgiving yourself for those flaws when you don’t match up to your own high standards.
It is certainly about listening quietly to others, holding their hand, creating a space for us all to share what’s going on for us.
If you would like to share what you’re feeling right now, please feel free to comment below and to learn more about what it takes to be Out Loud, my book Living Out Loud – A Masterclass In Being Yourself is available here on Amazon.