Tone.

Everyone’s spiritual journey is perfect. At least according to Deepak and Oprah. I guess it’s true, I certainly like to think so. God knows I’m always looking for answers to explain life’s pain.

Though my spirit has pockets of doubt, there is something about its journey I am certain. My trip is largely made up of tonal experiences. I am body and soul.

Tone, for me, is everything. it guides me, shapes me, and alerts me to the dangers of the world. Maybe more than it should, but for me, it’s a center point around which I can more confidently live.

Tone dictates how a message is conveyed and it determines how I am perceived. We live in community with ourselves, with each other, with our thoughts, with our pain, and our joy. Tone will always decide on which side of the emotional coin we land.

Here’s the catch. There is no pure tone. There is pure heart, spirit, essence, intention, however, we name it, but there is no pure tone. At least none we can take in with traditional anatomy. We hear and see subjectivity with perception. We feel frequency and sense intention.

We don’t hear ourselves in the same tone that others hear us, or as, say a microphone does. We don’t see ourselves as others do, as a camera does, as does a mirror. But, without a device to filter our tones, whether that be awareness, lessons, feedback, or a simple app, we can not get an idea of the tone of our messages. We can not really know how we live in community with each other or with ourselves, how we hear or see our own tone without a bounce back. Without a reflection.

We’ll never experience ourselves as others do. And that’s OK. I guess I just wish we could all pay a bit more attention to our tone.

I have spent most of my life listening to, analyzing, considering and teaching tone. It’s my job. It’s an organic part of how I live and witness the world. First, I was a professional child of emotional trauma, subconsciously attuned to the intonation of those around me in order to gauge if I needed to be afraid or not. Afraid for my heart or my person. And then, as a student, performer, and teacher of voice, dance, and acting, I honed my skills. Because tone is not only audible but physical and visual, I wanted total immersion into the sensations of tone. I thought it might make me feel a little safer, help me understand others and find a connection with them. As I amplified these skills, I began to understand them. But the answers unraveled more questions, leading me down an endless depth of listening that I continue to explore, I must continue to fine tune their meaning, their placement, their inception. That is how I feel my place in the world, that is how I know to trust, to love, to let go, and to run or to fight.

I have been a teacher of these arts longer than I’ve been an emotionally well-balanced person. I know that sounds dramatic and a bit gothic, but my point isn’t to spotlight my emotional journey as much as it is to give a foundational background in my experience with tone. I have listened on many frequencies and heard from many perspectives, and that gives me an interesting point of view, if not an expert one.

I am careful not to manipulate tone because it is ultimately important to me to be as authentic as possible. Except, of course, for the scary times when authentic is an honesty I can not bear to endure and I try to hide, to make up, to change the script, the image, the sound. My mind says, run and hide, protect yourself. By my damn heart has a mind of its own and is determined to pin me to what is real, even if I don’t want to be exposed to it’s tone. So, the times of new social encounters, doctors appointments, conversations about money with my husband, a conflict between myself and a mom of one my son’s friends,  IEP meetings, Psychiatry appointments? These are moments try to manipulate my tone so that I am heard and taken seriously. I am not always cared for in these moments, and that is hard for me.  But if I can’t be cared for, then I try to be heard.

I am rarely successful at this. As usual, my heart betrays my mind and my fear comes riding out on a black horse draped in defenses, kicking up weaknesses with every stride. My pulse races, my speech flutters in fits and spurts, my breath is rapid and gives me away.

My tone can not be missed.

If my spiritual journey is, in fact, perfect but still tone essential, then it all goes back to the balance of not caring what other’s think of me while still being aware of the frequency they’re sending out, and finding comfort where there is none to be given.

Inside myself. It all goes back to the tone I use toward myself.

For me, it always goes back to tone.

 

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