James Anthony Ellis
Editor, Legacy Magazine
Oh sure I’ve had my share of successes:
- Plays produced on a main theater stage in San Diego.
- A short film.
- Eight books published.
- A lovely marriage.
- A couple documentaries pulling for positive impact.
But there is nothing that compares with the success I have experienced pretty much on a daily basis, ever since I was a wee one.
And the success is this: overcoming the loud ringing voice in my head that tells me, “Your words are meaningless, you are not worth anything, there’s always someone better who knows more…”
To be more succinct, the voice basically bellows behind the scene: “SHUT UP!”
Oh yes … and different memories pop into mind as I write these words.
There I am …
- In 2nd grade, sitting on my hands and not getting up to stop Steve Alvarez when he was walking over to the girl I liked, Terry Shannon, knowing he was gossiping, whispering something wrong about me into her ear.
- In 4th grade, not saying a word and fading into the background, when Jamie Jordan, my partner in our pine cone presentation, took the lead delivering our project … and messing it up.
- In 5th grade, being taken out of normal class so I could take part in what they called “speech time” for what they called my “lazy mouth” that would slur my words.
- In high school, agonizing over every single word I would utter aloud – to a teacher, to a girl I liked, to anyone resembling a human.
- In college, procrastinating, staying up until literally 2 a.m. before starting on my newspaper article because I was so afraid the words were going to be wrong and the article would not be good enough.
With such a backdrop of negative self-talk around communication, with such angst over even uttering one word, it is quite amazing how far this silly and prolific poet, columnist, author and e-mailer could get.
That self-talk of “shut up” and “be quiet” – I guess it was my mountain to climb, my barrier to dissolve, my obstacle to overcome.
What more could a kid do to transform such a dreary existence around communication than take up journalism, become an editor in college, write plays and productions, edit a men’s magazine, produce films and documentaries, author a book ABOUT communication and even get up and spout off to large audiences from time to time.
“Shut up?” “Be quiet?”
Is that what the voice has said?
Sorry. I will not.
It was not my destiny to follow your lead, to head that call.
There was another voice to follow.
And my prayer is that it will matter. I pray these words can uplift and inspire others along their path. So they too realize they matter, their voice shall be heard, and their contributions enhances the collective like no other could.
James Anthony Ellis is an award-winning playwright, journalist and filmmaker, who is the author of eight books, including the men-focused “The Honor Book” available HERE.