Voices: From Violence to Victory

“Treat me like a curse. Then, tell me I’m your savior. I’m never with the stranger I used to know so well.”

Finding inner peace is a tempestuous journey when vast portions of life have been wasted absorbing the idea that your observations are worthless.The strangers are those insecure mentors that gave you scattered episodes of affection because they knew you were dubious to reject anything they said.

I remember experiencing this track with my best friend, Kalesha. I ruminated over the refrain and sang it with her and to myself. “Who is the master? / Who is the slave?

Hard Candy was Madonna’s creation and I was overjoyed to have discourse with anyone  about songs that did not appear—-at least conceptually—-to go together. The questions the album stirred inside me were powerful enough for soul-searching, yet seductive enough to fade into obscurity. I needed a more present self, a self less concerned with having fun. I need to be a person that I was afraid of in those years during community college.

I have long since swallowed the “hard candy” masked by the peppermint scent that numbed me so well. I’ve weathered my grandfather’s death, my father’s immaturity, my confidant’s insecurity, my partner’s incompetency and my individual idiosyncrasy.

Identity was the buried theme in Madonna’s “Voices”. I had grown “too accustomed to the hell of others.” I had become too feeling to execute my points of separation. I was deathly afraid of rejection and could not see how confronting demons released its own rejuvenation.

Our identity super-imposes another person when we are too prideful to notice our own slavery. The truth is brave. Honesty is as much about being accurate as it is about observing when our network threatens to render us inauthentic. I had lost my voice in the storm of data. And I could not see that writing and reading was a way toward silencing the voices. When connections are frayed and inconsistent,  we are all more than willing to subvert our own wishes. People allow this when their failure feelings numb them to objectivity.  I had failed to see the value of risks. And I let the “voices” confuse me because I did not distinguish the difference between master or the slave.

When being liked is all we desire, forgetting how to ask for respect feeds the “voices.” You lie to yourself about values you once clarified. You accept pain that you once defined as UN-necessary because the “voices” say it’s all for the best.

Our minds are computers that are sensitive to programming. And just like hard drives, we confuse the master with the slave. We substitute the secondary for the primary, and the logical for the sentimental when the accurate choice is a synergy of both.

I used to think of myself as that curse, because the “voices” determined that being an actor was better than being myself. Harold the actor and master of his fate cannot detract from Harold the voiceless slave. But when does Harold get to be… Harold the person. I must be the master…and continue to grow unaccustomed to the emotional and psychological hell of my past connections.

Madonna sings again:

So you play madness like it’s convenient
You do it so often that you start to believe it
You have demons, so nobody can blame you
But who is the master and who is the slave?

And this is the clincher. Like Madonna, I grew weak, unable to see the playing madness because I was so much of an actor. And maybe, I needed failure to conclude that the “voices” were not always right. My voice, my spirit…and ultimately my motivations need to have the space to censor the “voices”. I needed to remember who the master is. I need to remember that even perfectionists and motivators get too prideful to face their own demons.

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