When I first read The Little Mermaid ( Hans Christian Anderson version, not Disney) I cried. The mermaid in the original story trades her voice for a pair of human legs. So she can be like the Prince she falls involve with. Now, that in itself is sad but she also feels immense pain with every step that she takes. For the sake of clarity, let’s think about the mermaid as the person which goes through a series of transformations and the Prince as the goal we are trying to reach( job, promotions, projects, unleashed creativity)
That’s how I felt before having a real conversation: in pain and with the certainty that my voice won’t be heard.
That’s how I felt in primary school. That’s how I felt when I tried to speak to my parents. I then started writing(what can a mute mermaid do? I discovered a sense of freedom in that) But it still wasn’t a conversation. I decided to go to the creative writing group at the university and read my first attempts. When my teacher told me that my writing was awful I stopped writing for 3 years.
(After all, what was I trying to add? And who was I, anyway?)
Now, that’s how you break someone’s legs! That’s how you reduce to silence…
So the mermaid walks aimlessly and painfully. Has employers, some good, some bad. I had 2 bad experiences when it comes to jobs. The first one weighed on me until I couldn’t take it any more and I left. (I wrote about it some years ago) The second was bad but I decided to speak up. I had this belief that things will never change unless I spoke up. And I did. I still quit but I was different, transformed. I started to imagine that those legs belonged to me and I stopped walking without purpose.
Am I still scared to speak up?
But every single statement that I make makes me.
I am scared about being harshly criticized. When I started this blog I had to imagine no one would read it in order to post something but the feedback was so touching, it reduced me to tears.
What if we’re actually withholding something worth saying but we’re petrified? What if we are worthy? How many people actually believe that they will not only be heard but actually be listened to?
When we were filming for “Forgotten Song” we met some children. They were begging. I came out of the car and I asked if they wanted to play. They forgot what they were told to be:i.e. beggars and for a second returned to who they really wore. They played hide and seek with me. I asked their names and I saw the happiness illuminating their faces. It was heart breaking. These children were happy because I was interested in their names. What would happen if I told them that I believe in them. That I am listening to them?
We often say that children are attention seekers. But how many times do we step into their vision? The mermaid in the story, in order to step into someone’s shoes gets a pair of legs. And yes, the truth might be uncomfortable but I believe that within the little mermaid something clicked the minute she found her voice. But the real alchemy occurs when one listens. I suppose that makes us all human.