If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to watch the interview I conducted with Deb Caletti last January. In many ways her story exemplifies why I started this magazine. I love the craft of writing, and I even find the business of writing interesting in the same way I find MONOPOLY interesting, but I couldn’t dedicate a publication to these two subjects. But the question Deb faced when her already physically abusive first husband told her that her writing would amount to nothing more than a hobby and that he wanted her to quit, is enough for me to fill a lifetime of magazines. As she explains in the interview, when someone hits they take something, but when they want to silence your voice they are taking much more.
I thought of Deb when I came across a video the other day in which a classically autistic girl, a girl who lacked speech and was presumed mentally retarded, began communicating through typing. What she had to say about autism was remarkable, but when she wrote: “I found my voice; you can find yours too,” I thought, We are all autistic in one way or another.
The world cannot know what truth you perceive unless you express it. I can become a kind of tyrant to my own children simply because I am too tired, too worried, or too grumpy to understand why an extra ten minutes of video games won’t mean the end of civilization. I do not mean this as a joke. It is at those moments when I, the father and supposed voice of reason, have lost my way that my sons must find their voice, not just to get their video games, but to understand that balance is always possible if you are willing to speak what you know but what others have temporarily forgotten.
The world is a friendly place, but everyone loses their way. Husbands lose their way, children lose their way, governments lose their way. We are all susceptible. But every time you perceive a lapse in another, you are presented with a choice: complain and blame, or speak and try to heal. It can seem a bit lonely when you speak for the first time, when you understand that in fact no one can speak for you, that you are as much the governing as the governed—but this feeling is only temporary. In fact, it vanishes the moment the words leave your heart, where you have kept them bottled, protected for years from nothing.
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You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com