February 8, 2019

Linda’s Lair, Monroe, Washington State
©2019 Singin String Publishing, ASCAP

In the late 1930s, Sylvia Daniels was riding in a car that became out of control when the driver hit the brakes on gravel. As a result of the accident, she lost her voice - she could only whisper. As well as becoming the brunt of bullying and teasing, she became the most popular girl in her high school. She had a big heart and she truly cared about people. That was my mom.

After about a year, her voice gradually returned and she met a better driver - Hanford “Hank” Fisher, my dad. They went on to produce first Kay, then Mike, then me. Having lived through the Depression, dealing with challenging hardships, they instilled in their kids the importance of basic principles like honesty, humility, frugality, kindness, and hard work. They spoke to us. They cared. They used their voices.

In 2019, we are in a world where the suicide rate is climbing by as much as 58% per year in the United States. The main reason for that is increased opioid use. But why do so many feel the need to escape? Why is life so painful for so many? Why don’t more people know better than to start misusing drugs or alcohol? Or why don’t they care?

In 2019 we are experiencing the sixth mass extinction. Are you or anyone you know aware of this? Do you care?

“A “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades means a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way and is more severe than previously feared, according to research. Scientists analysed both common and rare species and found billions of regional or local populations have been lost. They blame human overpopulation and overconsumption for the crisis and warn that it threatens the survival of human civilization, with just a short window of time in which to act.” [The Guardian]

I believe the main reason for most of the problems we have as humans are the result of parents not being vocal enough with their children. When you are addicted to the pursuit of money, sex, alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, or any combination of these things, your attention to the needs of your children can be secondary. What the child feels is a disconnect - a lack of caring, a lack of love and direction-giving nurturing. That is hell to a child. Give me a fix! And with the observation that life is becoming extinct, what does it matter?

I recently spent time in Hawaii, on the island of Maui. One day a couple came to visit me and my host, Bruce Turnbull. At the end of an hour’s conversation, one of the visitors said, “We came up here hoping to find some light.” That statement took me by surprise. I didn’t know how to respond. Suddenly I felt inadequate as a source of anything valuable or useful.

Later that day, on the way to some adventure, we stopped by a grocery store. As the young man loaded my bag, he said, “Don’t be afraid to shine your light.”

OMG! There it is again! It was then I really began to take notice that many Hawaiian locals seem to be happy and generous with their smiles and good vibes. I asked about the meaning of the word, “ALOHA.”

“The word is found in all Polynesian languages and always with the same basic meaning of: love, compassion, sympathy and kindness.” [Wikipedia]

Aloha is the ongoing theme and message of Hawaii. What a great thing! Hawaii has the highest life expectancy of any of the states in America! Why? The answer needs to be at least partially attributed to the thread in Hawaiian culture that forms the fabric that joins these people: aloha… love, compassion, sympathy, and kindness. It is their way of being. It is how they are raised.

For centuries, Polynesian travelers fought and struggled over land ownership and power. One great person came along who decried that this fighting shall no longer be allowed in Hawaii. He was big, powerful, and caring. “As ruler, Kamehameha took steps to ensure the islands remained a united realm after his death. He unified the legal system. He used the products collected in taxes to promote trade with Europe and the United States." [Wikipedia]

I recently began taking vocal lessons in Indian classical singing from Richard Russell, who studied under The great Indian sarode maestro, Ali Akbar Khan. The basic practice is singing one note, held as long as possible, in perfect tune and without wobbling or waver. After about ten minutes of doing this, the hope is that the student will begin to recognize a union with spirit, with the Creator. When this happens, an already-existing, but newfound voice appears, along with a new reason for sharing that voice with the world.

Do we all need to stand and let our voices be heard? Do we all need to find our hiding aloha and share it everyday with the people we encounter?

What could possibly be more important than your voice?

In the words of my friend, world famous sculpture, Bruce Turnbull, “When my thoughts are gentle and my hands are unhurried, there is wisdom in my work. This is the stuff with which we grow and nurture humanity toward new life and higher purpose… new colors of darsh and snowen and emmerdine. New forms of mobius abstracts and new dancers without the need to touch the ground. Why hop with wings folded when you can fly? Why be content to collect pebbles when you have found gold? Now go beyond the enchantment of my art… look for the unknown… transcend… FLY!”

What could possibly be more important than YOUR VOICE?