Unspoken voice

its-all-make-believeI am nothing but a figment of your imagination. I am nonexistent in the physical sense. But even imaginary entities deserve a name. Mine is George. I know, it’s a rather plain name. Maybe that explains why it has been such a struggle to have my story told. You see, there are so many other imaginary creatures inside my author’s mind – he is real, by the way – I think. Anyway, these other voices have much more interesting names like Francesca, Isadora, and Anastasia – or Broderick, Ignatius, and Nicodemus. Forget for a few minutes that these voices come in male and female counterparts. That’s another story for another day, if I am able to be heard again. It was difficult enough edging my way into the conscious corner of my writer’s mind this time around.

All those other voices? They have elegant and pretentious sounding names. And the stories they beg to tell prey on the ego of its readers. They weave plot twists together to compose the most daring adventures. They hide magical talismans in the most unlikely but fortuitous locations that lead to wonderful tales of discovery. This is not one of those stories. So, if you are looking to travel around the world, discover hidden treasure, and be surprised by unexpected plot twists, you may as well stop reading now. Well, on second thought, maybe you do want to continue reading. Take a chance, why don’t you?

This is a story about a man. The entire story takes place on a park bench. Pretty interesting, huh? This man has a name, but nobody knows it. It’s Fred, by the way – his name that is. Another one of those plain names. Maybe that’s why his story has remained untold for so long. I can relate, but I digress. I must stay focused lest my creator banish me from existence. I have seen him do it before.

Seated on this park bench, Fred stares at the sidewalk in front of him. He wears a brown hooded jacket and tattered blue jeans that look as if they have been worn for the past week and a half. Truth is, they have probably been worn for much longer than that. He holds a can of peach slices in his one hand, picking out the pieces of fruit from the syrup inside with great care. He doesn’t want to waste the juice. It is sustenance that he needs to help him get through the day.

Fred tilts his head to the side as a mom walks by with her young son. He must be ashamed of his primitive existence here on the bench. He looks away to avoid eye contact. No one has seen his eyes, it seems. People waltz by talking on their cell phone, listening to their music, absorbed in their own world. They are oblivious to the existence of this other human being – one who deserves to have their story heard as much as anyone else. But no one stops to ask what that story is.

He snorts long and hard through his nostrils. The cold fall weather, his clothes that inadequately cover his extremities, and the evident malnutrition has probably led to some medical condition that will never be diagnosed, never treated, and will only cause his health to deteriorate further over time.

It seems like a sad life, doesn’t it? To our materialistic and egocentric selves, yes. But, you see, I think that is why I exist. If only for a fleeting moment, I am that unspoken voice that finally edges his way into the conversation to shed some light on reality – and the truth.

Remember when I said no one knew Fred’s name? No one cared enough to ask? I suppose that’s why I did ask. Well, I can’t ask of course. I don’t exist, remember? But, I somehow coerced my inventor to carry out this request on my behalf. It’s not something he usually does so I was quite surprised by his obliging manner. I was even more surprised – and I think he was too – by what happened next.

“Good morning, what’s your name?”

“Fred.”

Just one word was spoken, and yet the message conveyed through those steel blue eyes spoke a seemingly infinite number of words painted in the most charismatic hues. Time seemed to stand still. Yeah, I know, it’s one of the clichés you find in those other stories. This was no cliché, however – this was real. It was as if the rewind button had been pressed, the movie just witnessed was replayed frame by frame in the space between our collective eyes, momentarily locked upon each other.

Fred stared at the ground – he wasn’t mired in feelings of self-pity and depression. He was watching the line of ants navigating around the twig at his feet. Undeterred, the tiny insects always seemed to find a way to persevere and survive despite their lacking physical endowments. Inspiration from an ant – the same ants that are considered pesky and annoying to the rest of us.

house-wrenFred tilted his head – he wasn’t ashamed of his disheveled appearance or poverty stricken lifestyle. He was simply directing his good ear towards the chirping bird in the tree above him. The house wren was plain and simple in appearance. And yet, he was still able to create beautiful and exquisite music. No one could ever convince him that he should not sing his song to the world. Everyone else misses out on these simple pleasures. We have a cell phone to our ear. We have our latest mile time to beat. We have more important things to worry about. Not Fred. No, not Fred.

Fred snorts through his nostrils – he isn’t sick, not yet at least. No, he is grabbing hold of that crisp fall air as it blows by him. Pulling it back through his nostrils, he inhales it deeply into his lungs. The air, filled with the scent of fall leaves, sends a message to his subconscious mind. He is catapulted back to his childhood, recalling fond memories of jumping into the leaves that his dad had just raked into a tall pile under the giant oak tree in his backyard. He is struck with a sense of humility – and gratitude. Things can change in the blink of an eye. He appreciated what he had now, even if it was only a can of peaches and a second or third hand brown hooded jacket. It could be much worse. Of course, the rest of us look upon this situation and feel a mix of pity, remorse, maybe even anger – surely, it couldn’t get any worse than this – and geez, all you have to do is get off your butt and do something. You have control over your own life, after all.

listen-to-the-quietest-whispersHard to believe, isn’t it? All this from a glance into someone’s eyes. To be honest with you, I wouldn’t have believed it myself. Things are rarely as they appear on the surface. Maybe that’s the whole point though. We don’t really know how a story is going to unfold before our eyes. We can’t appreciate the seemingly insignificant or misconstrued details until we decide to listen to a story – deeply – whether it’s through our eyes, our ears, or those unspoken voices inside our head that we seem to neglect far too often.

12 thoughts on “Unspoken voice

  1. Hariod Brawn February 11, 2015 / 10:49 am

    Beautifully written Dave, and a most interesting idea. When we find ourselves dismissing others, it’s always worth reminding ourselves that everybody has a story, and that in all likelihood, it’s at least as interesting as our own.

    • davecenker February 11, 2015 / 3:25 pm

      Thank you Hariod for your very kind words, and I have found on so many occasions that stories from others not only illuminate their situation, but also cast much needed light on our own circumstances. We are all interconnected and it becomes so much more evident when we open up and share our own stories while listening to others. Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment, and best wishes for an inspired day!

  2. Writing to Freedom February 11, 2015 / 1:11 pm

    Wonderful Dave. Kudos to you, Fred, George and all the other hidden voices and people, waiting for us to take notice. Thanks for painting a story in my heart with your gift of words. simple and profound like Fred. 🙂

    • davecenker February 11, 2015 / 3:27 pm

      Thanks Brad, I always appreciate your insights and comments 😉 Hearing voices in our head is not always a bad thing, eh? It’s when we ignore them that we get ourselves into trouble 😉

      Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment, and best wishes for new and inspiring stories unfolding in your world 🙂

      • Writing to Freedom February 11, 2015 / 3:43 pm

        Or listen to the wrong ones! 🙂 My pleasure in reading your stories Dave.

  3. balroop2013 February 11, 2015 / 11:23 pm

    Hi Dave,

    What a wonderful narration! Thanks for arousing a very familiar feeling…the urge that suddenly erupts the moment we see such eyes. This story took me back in time, I have actually met such eyes, of a lady and those old, tired eyes posed many questions, which could reach my heart and they haunted me for a long time. I have even written a poem about that encounter. Here is the link:
    https://balroop2013.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/memories-that-haunt/

    • davecenker February 16, 2015 / 8:55 am

      Thank you Balroop for sharing your thoughts and your beautiful poem. It is the ultimate compliment for you to read a story and recall a similar experience from well over a year ago, so thank you 😉

      It is amazing how we each look upon a situation wearing different glasses. The lenses we see the world through are colored by our own experiences and perceptions. When we are able to take off those glasses, even if for only an instant, we are able to appreciate the world for what it really is. Thank you again for sharing and best wishes for an inspired day!

  4. Marquita Herald (@marquitaherald) February 14, 2015 / 10:34 am

    You know Dave I could just picture this story playing out – mostly because you are such a darn fine writer, but also because for years I worked with the local food bank and even chaired a few county food drives, so I’m all too familiar with the type of scenario you described. Everyone has a story, and there’s something to be learned from each one.

    But there was another the surprising notion that popped into my mind as I was reading your story. Those of us who aspire to inspire so often focus on urging people to quiet their minds to focus on the things that matter, and for most of us that makes sense. Which I suppose is why it’s so easy to forget that there are also people in the world like Fred for whom thoughts and memories occupy most of their time because there is little else save basic survival needs they have to focus on. For them, it must at times seem a blessing to have the opportunity to busy their minds on other things.

    • davecenker February 16, 2015 / 9:06 am

      Aspire to inspire, I really like that Marty 🙂 Your comments are another perfect example of why I enjoy participating in the blogosphere so much. I remember volunteering at a local food shelter with some co-workers on a few different occasions, and it is so gratifying to know that other people can truly identify with the plight of a homeless person. I am certain that none of the people we run across on the street ever planned to be homeless – and the recognition that none of us are immune to the possibility of that occurring in our own lives is humbling, and it allows us to be more compassionate and gracious. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences! I always look forward to your insights 🙂

  5. thespiritkeepers February 18, 2015 / 12:17 am

    Nicely written. Thanks for the word images you left me.

    • davecenker February 18, 2015 / 8:18 am

      Thanks for the kind words, and for stopping by to read and comment. I sincerely appreciate it. And incidentally, I love your tagline – seeing the whisper – it embodies much of what I feel at my core. Thanks again for sharing and best wishes for an inspired day 😉

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