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Voice comes before faith

I was about to catch the flight to São Paulo.

While my father looked for the wheelchair and my mother looked for the trolley for the luggage, I had to stay alone in the car with the doors closed. Alone for a short time, but long enough to realize that I wasn't really alone in that moment. I heard a voice. The most serene and reassuring voice I've ever heard in my entire life. I asked: who is it? Speak, speak... Who's there? Tell me. That voice only said my name, but it brought me immeasurable peace. I even questioned myself afterwards – Could it be a schizophrenic disorder? I prefer to believe in the existence of a spiritual plane.

After undergoing numerous chemotherapy sessions, 7 years ago I had an autologous bone marrow transplant. For those who don't know, it's the one where you remove a reasonable amount of stem cells, freeze them and send them to the “Harry Potter School of Arts and Witchcraft”. Then it defrosts in a water bath and releases all that magic straight into the heart's vena cava. If we compare it to the reproductive system, my stem cells would be the sperm and the inner part of the bones, the egg. In my case, this process was almost tantric, as the millions of stem cells took 10 days to travel through the blood until they found their true habitat. On this day my body felt like Tutankhamen's mummy waking up in the Tomb.

I'm 99.9% sure you've heard the famous gem “Faith moves mountains”. However, I am no longer so sure if you heard the excerpts “If God is a father, it is the voice, my mother… who made me understand who I am” and “Mother Goddess is the voice, her peace heals the pain”. I've always enjoyed listening to some songs in Gal Costa's voice. Last year she released her new album and in one of the lyrics these phrases caught my attention. The voice, like music, is synesthetic and I am living proof that a single voice is capable of healing thousands of pains.

The voice is capable of bringing back memories, feelings, colors and smells, and it can also pass you by in French, like a whisper or an intuition. Whether from the inside out or the outside in, a voice can make you give up or resist. To paraphrase Caetano Veloso, the voice can be a compass, as well as our disorientation.

At the time of my treatment, as well as today, I was part of a risk group and needed to be isolated. Music was one of the things that kept me strong and positive that year, but also the content, the lyrics of those melodies and the voice of the interpreters brought me the well-being that I needed and, as in the song sung by Gal Costa, the whole that verbiage took my pain away. I used to call those daily musical doses “Digital Chemotherapy”.

In Communication Theory classes we learn that for there to be communication you need at least one “A” transmitter and one “B” receiver. Although I am a person with excessive verbal behavior, I always liked to listen, and inside an isolation room with a low immunity, it was preferable that I didn't spend so much of my energy being on the A side. So that year I took advantage of the silence from my vocal cords to be more of the B-side.

Since that day in the car, at the end of the previous year, I never had hope, but the certainty that that whirlwind of emotions would pass and that whole transcendental experience was just another learning experience. That voice taught me to create a policy of good coexistence, not only with the “Alien”, which spent a season in my belly, but also with all the challenges that were to come for the rest of my life. That voice gave me the faith and confidence I needed to face this challenge, to write with certainty that today there is a B-side listening to my voice.

Born in Recife based in São Paulo, Lucas Uellendahl is a publicist, screenwriter, composer and audiovisual producer. He currently leads the Kalangus Creative Hub team.

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