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On Finding One’s Voice

One time I remember working on a particular song for over nine months before I felt confident in playing it in public. That's okay. It reconfirms something that I've known for quite some time. That is if one plays through a piece about a hundred times one will probably kind of know it.

In other words, it took me awhile before I could “find my voice”. That is not just a matter or learning to sing on key. It is the process of making the song your own. It is the point at which your fingers just play the tune and if you are also singing it is that point at which your fingers and voice just play and sing together, and you are just “into the song”. I call it, “finding one’s voice.”

But there is also more to it. When one owns the song, they are free to finally “hear its story”.

It was not until I found my voice for that song that I was able to hear its story. Once I heard its message; I understood and was able to come full circle and put its feeling into my voice.


So much of life is about stories. Stories come to us in all different forms. I can tell a story with words. I do that every Sunday.

I can also tell a story with wood. I do that when I'm so inspired. Both of those art forms did not just develop overnight. It took years of training and practice until I could say that I found my voice in either storytelling or wood.

For the past couple of years, I've been learning music.

One time I was in conversation with one of our club members about the type of wood out of which his guitar was made. Myrtle wood.

The minute he said the word “Myrtle”. I was reminded of a story from my childhood. We lived on a farm in North Central Kansas. I was still an infant. My dad was in his early thirties. I can't say that I “actually remember” this story but I do remember how it was told over and again and has become a part of the Bell family narrative.

It's a simple story and a short story.

Dad was a young aspiring farmer, having come back from the war and like so many others; he was trying to start his life over, this time with a wife and three little kids. He was trying to scratch out a living on an 80-acre farm. One of the ideas he came up with was to raise pigs.

He had a sow by the name of Myrtle.

Here's a picture:

That's Myrtle on the right. As you can see from the picture Myrtle was a fairly good size pig. In fact, I've been told that she weighed over a thousand pounds. The story as often told was that one day, Myrtle took exception with something that dad was doing. Perhaps he got between her and her babies or perhaps she just decided she didn't like him on that day in particular?

At any rate, for some reason, she turned on him. He did the only sensible thing when one is being chased by a half-ton-angry-sow. He turned and ran. The problem being, however, there was a patch of very large Kansas sunflowers growing in the immediate vicinity. As dad turned to run away from Myrtle he ended up “climbing” into this patch of sunflowers.

This is where the story gets perhaps a little bit apocryphal, because to hear him tell it; he ended up straddling an exceptionally large sunflower and was then literally suspended in midair. His feet did not touch the ground. He was trying to run but could not get away. Nor could he climb any further. So, he was just suspended there by this exceptionally large sunflower. His embarrassment was then further compounded by the fact that he swears he could hear Myrtle “laughing at him as she turned around and walked away”.

I have no doubt in my mind that this story is true. Perhaps someday I will write a song about it if I can find my voice.




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