It’s funny when you get laryngitis. People around you stop talking too.
It’s as if imitation is the highest form of communication. You talk a lot, I talk a lot. You stay silent, I stay silent. We are the same.
It happens within cultures that are highly oral, or highly symbolic, or highly ritualistic. People imitate what they see and hear, from generation to generation. We act the same to show we are the same.
When someone stops talking, there’s a disruption in the system. We all stop, because something is amiss. We just can’t be different.
It’s some kind of instinct—perhaps sympathetic, or perhaps cautious. Does difference mean weakness, or danger?
When I got laryngitis this week, I tried to switch into an improvised sign language. But it wasn’t taken well. People could not understand it, so I gave up quickly. I tried to force myself to talk, but it hurt.
In my mind, I was telling others: “Go ahead and talk. Have a conversation with yourself, out loud, without asking me questions. I can hear perfectly. I can nod my head.”
But I could only think these thoughts, not say them. There was no choice; all I could do was listen and try to use body language. I became still.
It made me realize: Words are important, because they get repeated. Monkey hear, monkey repeat. Words of love inspires more words of love. Hate inspires hate.
Actions get repeated too. Somehow it’s all very reflexive, and unconscious, and there’s truth to the saying of “money see, monkey do.” A choice to do something is also a choice for others to repeat it.
Now that I’m starting to talk again, I hope to recognize and leverage the power of the voice. It travels far beyond the ears that hear it, and it gets repeated again and again. Words and actions reverberate in ways we can never understand.
Everything we do has an echo.