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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Raising Your Voice

Despite the cold, Bow asks to go outside every day. He has a sweater and socks and clothes he could choose to wear, but he never does. He wants to go out as he is. And while he does not stay out for long, he does seem to accomplish a lot.

One of his favorite things to do is to express himself. First he looks around to see what he can see.

But then he does not wait very long to make his own contribution.

Bow's cries can be heard a long way away. Some people yodel. Bow just vocalizes. Then when he is done he can relax and enjoy the view.

And when Bow feels that he has accomplished all that can be accomplished, he takes that leap back inside, without ever touching the ground.

Does Bow go outside primarily to express himself? Is it because he can use his outdoor voice and it can carry well beyond the borders of our property? Is he sending a message to someone out there, or merely enjoying the sound of his own voice?

Many years ago, someone asked me whether I write in order to express myself or to communicate with others. At the time, I thought it an odd question. What would be the point of expressing myself, if I did not hope others would read and understand? What would be the point of communicating with others, if you were not allowed to express yourself in that communication?

But one of the things I have realized in the past thirteen years is that while communication and self-expression are related and often intertwined, they actually are separable. I am inclined to think that self-expression predates communication. I believe that reciprocity is overrated. Some messages go only one way. Sometimes you broadcast, but never receive. Like a baby's cry, which indicates a want, our most important ways of expressing ourselves go out, whether there is an appropriate audience or not. If the baby is lucky, his call will be heeded by a person who understands the want being expressed. Then self-expression will blossom into communication. But even so, every communication starts out as one-sided. In order to receive the self-expression of someone else, we have to stop speaking long enough to hear the other.

Bow always comes in from his outdoors sessions with a self-satisfied expression. He has said what he had to say. And whether or not his message was received, he feels much better.


  1. Aya, the question about why your write is one I often ask myself. It can be disappointing when people don't comment on our blogs, even though the webtracker shows people are visiting and reading the posts. A couple of times, I've thought about not posting anymore, but then I do something fun and feel like sharing my pictures or expressing my excitement over something, and I sit down and write. So, I thought about your post this morning and I have decided that this is something that I enjoy doing and is a way for me to express myself where no one else has control or can tell me what to write or what to do. If people read it, that's a bonus. If some people decide to comment on it, that's another bonus. But for me, primarily, I enjoy the process of writing about it and discovering things within myself as I do it.
    I'm with Bow - let's go display and if someone hears it matters not...only that we expressed ourselves!

    1. Hi, Kathy. Definitely keep posting! Self expression is primary. But I also think that in the long run only those motivated by self expression are saying anything worth listening to.

  2. I do not get tons of comments on my posts, but I think the few I get and web traffic can be encouraging. Glad Bow is enjoying his jaunts in the colder weather.

    1. Hi, Julia. Definitely comments and traffic can be encouraging. I enjoy reading your posts and your comments. But I think it is important to be self-motivated enough to continue to plug away even when there is little external encouragement.

      Sometimes I wonder if those people who have many readers would stop writing if they had none. Some people are so social that what they do is almost entirely determined by external reward.

      Bow is looking forward to warmer weather when he can stay out longer. It has been very cold out so far.

    2. Well I think some social butterflies might stop writing or vlogging if traffic tanked, but I always had to tell myself to keep creating when I am not getting droves of traffic. When I first started on Hubpages I used to be swimming in comments, but as traffic cooled down, I received less comments. I eventually realized the people who were commenting actually wanted to, and previously the people who commented only did so because they hoped it would bring attention to their hubs.

    3. Yes, there used to be a lot of that going on there.