Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in his poem, “The Voiceless”:

Alas for those that never sing,
But die with all their music in them.

Psychotherapist Barry Michels cited that line of Holmes’ poem in “The Tools,” the book he co-authored with the psychiatrist Phil Stutz. And then Michels wrote: 

“It is a tragedy to die with your song unsung. What’s worse is that we are guilty of stilling our own voices – we silence ourselves. Yet despite the terrible price we pay, we don’t leave the Comfort Zone. Why not?”

Yes, we are ultimately responsible for our silencing, because we can exercise our agency. But why is that often so painfully difficult? How do we come to these voiceless existences? What and who do we allow to shape our silence, to stifle us, to muzzle our will to use our voices? 

And why? Why do we allow our comfort zones to be set by others? What songs do we hold and wish to sing? More directly, let me ask: What songs do you hold and wish to sing? And if not now or not yet, then when?

The answers, as with most substantive questions, can be complex and elusive. But they are there. Asking them of ourselves is essential. Asking them is the beginning.


“No Songs Unsung” by Adam Williams