It was close to 3 in the morning when I finally left the computer and headed downstairs. I still felt awake, even though I knew that I should go to sleep soon. Thinking that some tea might help me fall asleep, I headed into the kitchen. I opened the door to enter and then immediately stopped, surprised by what I saw.
The small table by the window was set with a lace tablecloth, several plates laid out with an assortment of pastries. In the center was a floral teapot and two teacups, steam rising from the teacup closest to the door.
“Oh, I beg your pardon.” A small voice came from the teapot. I walked in slowly, my heart pounding. Was the teapot talking? A tiny mouse wearing a suit and bow tie popped out from behind one of the teacups. “I apologize, but I thought you were asleep.”
“No, I came downstairs to get some tea, actually.” I answered him, relieved to see that he was only a little mouse. “I see you have set quite an impressive table here.”
The mouse bowed courteously. “Thank you.” He motioned to the teapot. “Please, help yourself.”
I looked at the teapot skeptically. He nodded. “I insist.”
I finally shrugged. “Well, thank you.” I took a seat at the table and took the teacup. I wasn’t sure it was safe to drink, but he looked to be a very honest mouse.
The mouse peered at me inquisitively. “Don’t most humans sleep at night?”
“Most yes.” I answered. “But not all. I for one, like to write at night. And I see that you like to drink tea at night. Do you do this every night? I’ve never seen you in my house before.”
“Not often.” The mouse responded. “Today I needed to relax. I’m writing a book and I’m very stressed.”
I laughed. “Sounds familiar.”
The mouse frowned. “You sound anxious as well. Why are you anxious?”
“You first.” I said.
“Well.” The mouse began. “I’m very discouraged with my writing.” He sighed. “And I’m thinking of quitting.”
“No!” I shook my head. “Please don’t do that. Don’t ever give up on something that you love like that. You need to continue. Tell me what’s bothering you.”
The mouse sighed. “I’m in a bit of a conundrum, you see. And unfortunately, I’m not certain that there’s anything anyone can do to help.” The mouse pointed at his throat. “You see, I have a problem with my throat. More specifically, with my voice. It’s too small. It’s the tiniest voice in the room. In every room.” He looked at me with wide eyes. “I wish I were a human. If I were a human, my voice would be loud and powerful. And everyone would listen.”
I smiled. “Is that so? And you think it’s that easy?”
“Well yes.” He answered. “I do. Do you ever feel like you’re too small to get anything accomplished? That your voice gets lost in all the sounds around you? I can’t imagine that a human with a powerful, loud voice ever feels that way.”
“Actually yes.” I admitted. “I do feel like that, and often. And I hate to tell you, but human beings feel that way a lot. Most of us do. Sometimes I feel like my voice is trapped inside my throat, that the things I want to speak are ready to burst from my chest. Or that I’m screaming into a hurricane, my words all obliterated by the wind.”
The mouse slumped down and sighed. “That is very discouraging.” He said. “If human beings struggle to be heard, then how am I ever going to be heard? What’s the point of continuing with my writing? No one will ever hear me or need what I have to say.”
He looked so sad I couldn’t help but feel bad. Maybe I had been too harsh. I bent my head down so that I was eye level with him. “Hey. The world has a need for every voice.” I said. “And somewhere out there is someone who needs to hear what you have to say. You need to write it. And the right person will find it.”
He shook his head. “I don’t know that I’m particularly insightful. Who could possibly need to hear what I have to say?”
I stopped to think. “Me.” I finally answered. “I was feeling small today too.” I admitted. “Talking to you just now has shed some light on things for me. Made me think. And to me now, I think that answer is clear. If your voice isn’t loud enough for many people to hear, just speak to one person. Maybe your words are what someone needed to hear at that moment to continue on with their journey. And to me, that’s enough of a reason to keep writing.”
The mouse paused. After several moments he finally bowed deeply. “Thank you. I believe that you may have a point. I have the reason I need now to continue my story. Knowing that it makes a difference to you gives me inspiration.” He pointed at a small bundle of paper sitting by a croissant. “See, it’s right there.”
I smiled. “It looks like you’ve written quite a bit. And I’m glad we got the chance to talk. I can’t wait to read what you write.”
He took off his small top-hat and nodded to me. “The same to you. Until next time.”
I watched him leave and thought about the conversation. I meant what I had said, even though I had never really thought about it before until that moment. The voice we have doesn’t have to be the loudest or have the widest range to be the most powerful to someone. In my life it’s often been the faintest, the one that whispers late at night that has given me the perspective and motivation to live my life in the way that’s truest to my heart. Our voices are infinitely more powerful than we believe. I’m grateful for that. It gives me the belief in my own words. And it keeps me writing. Which at the end of the day, is what I love to do.