Sometimes I feel like I’m in a race to be heard.
Like the deafening drone of voiced opinions is beckoning me to keep up.
This nameless, faceless voice is all at once scary and alluring.
It tells me things I want to hear and places I should be.
It tells me that I cannot pause in contemplation on difficult topics, to do so would be to sit idle.
That there is no room to wrestle with my doubts and struggle to see multiple sides of the issue.
Instead, it calls me to quick response.
That what’s important isn’t finding the truth or at least a common ground.
Instead, it calls for me to be loud.
Because surely I cannot be heard, much less correct if I’m not shouting.
The chorus tells me that I must be heard.
That if I am not the first, not the loudest, not the one with a definitive stance,
Then I must be worth listening to.
And who am I then?
To punch a ticket anything other than blue or red must mean I’ve done something wrong.
And that the next thing to do after voting one of those hues is to hate those who didn’t.
For this symphony of voices doesn’t care which way I vote,
Only that I make sure everyone knows.
Oh, but I don’t just feel the pull when it comes to the tough subjects.
It tells me that even how I look should tell others about me.
Or what I find for entertainment and how it too should speak out loud.
So that not quiet footfalls, but loud statements are who I must be.
Sometimes it tells me that that others do not appreciate me,
Unless I collect a lot of little blue thumbs.
That if I join the race and try to keep up,
My validation will be found in the approval of others.
Most of the time I don’t even realize I’ve wandered onto the winding, twisted track again.
But invariably, I’ll glance up and notice someone else and wish I was in their position,
Not remembering that this course crisscrosses itself into insanity.
That the only true path to victory lies in bowing out of the race completely.
Of course there’s no way to be self reflective as I use this words,
and not still be knowing that I’ve got one foot back on the pavement.
And the road always does look smooth enough to travel.
But the sun beats down.
And I always get burnt.