I have found, as I get older, that when I am alone, as happens in my life of contemplation, and I need to exert myself even slightly, I more and more often accompany the action with a reassuring “all right… OK…” This involuntary self-encouragement is delivered in a slightly rough voice, but very softly. It is as much a breath as a voice, really. I don’t know where it comes from, except that such self-talk must go deep in the human experience.
It is unusual, in many lives, to have a gentle hand to guide us along. Like many things we learn to do on our own, we sometimes provide our own gentle hand. However otherwise gruff the voice is that encourages me to get up slowly after sitting for a long time, say, it is more than anything a gentle voice. I don’t mind it at all. I greatly prefer it to my outbursts.
I watched the last hour or so of the wonderful Princess Bride the other night. It reminded me again, watching Peter Falk play a character years older than he was at the time, a kid’s grandfather, both gruff and extremely gentle, that Falk’s character was probably a main source of this voice.
The grandfather reads the end of the story, closes the book, says goodnight to his grandson and gets up to leave. The boy asks his grandfather if he’ll come back and read it to him again the next day. Falk turns at the door of the boy’s room, bows his head slightly, like a vassal about to address his lord and says “as you wish.”