Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Gift of Speech

When you've got it, you've got it.
The trick is learning how to use it, then doing it.
Let's say you've got a knack for fixing things that are broken. Then your life's challenge becomes, as you progress from childhood to adulthood to maturity:

~identifying that aptitude (as, for instance,for fixin' things), given by God and nature to you.
~learning how to develop that raw aptitude into a skill
~developing that potential through education or apprenticeship
~adding value, by the use of your improved skill, to whatever comes your way, then
~passing the "whatever comes your way" along, having improved it (ie "fixed" it)
~having acquired, now, a proficiency, using it to establish a livelihood
~serving those you love by providing sustenance for yourself and for them
~serving mankind by the use of your fully developed gift

Consider, for example, Lionel Logue, the "King's" speech therapist. Now there was a man who accurately identified his gift, learned how to use it well, and then made a real difference in the world.

We're all Lionels, if we apply ourselves and our potentials to life's challenge.

There was a point in Lionel's life when all the education that he had sought pertaining to the use of speech began to contribute significantly to improvement of other people's lives.

In his book about his uncle Lionel, Mark Logue describes this turning point of effectiveness. About Lionel Logue's early attempts at speech therapy, Mark writes, on pages 30-31 of The King's Speech:

"His first success appears to have been with Jack O'Dwyer, a former soldier from West Leederville, in the Perth (Australia) suburbs. Earlier that year, Logue had been sitting on a train next to a soldier and watched, intrigued, as he leant forward to speak to two companions in a whisper. 'Mr. Logue thought the matter over, and just before he got to Fremantle he gave the soldier his card and asked him to call on him,' a newspaper (had) reported.
"O'Dwyer, it emerged, had been gassed at Ypres in August 1917 but had been told in London that he would never speak again. At Tidworth hospital on Salisbury Plain suggestive and hypnotic treatment was tried but failed. And so, on 10 March 1919, the unfortunate man had gone to see Logue.
"Logue was convinced he could help. So far as he could tell, the gas had affected the throat, the roof of the mouth and the tonsils, but not the vocal cords--in which case there was hope. At this stage, though, it was only a theory. He had to put it into practice. After a week, Logue managed to get a vibration in O'Dwyer's vocal cords and his patient was able to produce a clear and distinct 'ah.' Logue continued, trying to show him how to form sounds, much in the same way as a parent would teach a child how to speak for the first time. Less than two months later. O'Dwyer was discharged, quite cured...
"...Encouraged by his treatment of O'Dwyer, Logue went on to repeat his success with five other former soldiers..."

And the rest is history. Sir Lionel Logue embarked upon a path of providing speech therapy to people who needed his help. Ultimately, he changed the world for good. Especially when he, seventeen years later, coached a stammering king to speak a clear message of hope during Britains's darkest hour.

Lionel used his gift, and thus captured a king's stutter, then went on, seventy-three years later, to capture the imagination of a jaded, over-stimulated movie-obsessed culture. God save the speech therapist!
...And any other person who knows what they're doing, and is willing to take a crack at making the world just a little bit better place.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

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