Saturday, October 30, 2004

Silence

Whenever people wonder why nothing forces its way through my airways, over the larynx, over the tongue and through the teeth to make a sound, I do not understand the source of the wonder. It is as obvious to me as a sunrise -- when I have things to relate, to utter, to divulge, to share, I do.

Sitting alone and lost in a good book, or swept up by the muses of poetry, I hear music in the silence and I can't imagine why no one else does. Not all the time. But most of the time. The senses are almost heightened. Things are clearer, sharper and more true to their own nature.
When we speak is when life begins its assiduous assault on things trim and proper; seeking debasement of a human spirit at any cost. In fact, had it not been for the urge to communicate in general, and speech in specific, Cain and Able might to this day be celebrating Passover with the grandkids. Maybe.

Speech implies opening oneself to some degree to forces one has no control over. It also obfuscates and deceives -- both listener and the speaker.

Quiet disturbs and annoys. It forces introspection and usually toward those who love introspection the least (but ironically need it the most). It amuses me to witness this; to witness the most inane chatter that takes place to fill a void that serves a concrete purpose: to allow us the freedom to simply be present - in body, in spirit, in heart and in soul.

Quiet can also assume depth which is not always the case either. However, since the most shallow want to cover up that shallowness with some sort of chaff, that the most shallow will often do whatever it takes to avoid the silence.

Before the days of television, silence was part of the everyday regimen. It was expected as part of the "norm" and as such, it was never feared or avoided; it came when it came, and it was broken when it needed to be broken. It is too simplistic to lay waste to television as the Great Satan of the world. Everyone complains, but everyone watches. Its hard not to. It is glib, facile and wonderfully distracting. And these are all good things - in context. What context, you ask? In the context of a culture that promotes not rugged individualism, but a sort of rugged individualistic social symbiosis - a one for one and for the many and never at the expense of the one. We give and we take in measures commensurate to the need. (Sounds like communism, I know, and what precisely does this have to do with silence?)

This: silence nourishes the individual, making one stronger for the whole.

So when you look at me and I sit there and I and only I can hear that inner voice; when I do speak you do not listen; and when you do listen, you completely misunderstand; and when you understand, you carve it in stone and assume it never changes and is never subject to rework, rethought and revision; when this is the reality I have known all my life, when this is the only truth that will not hurt me - that when I am silent, I am free to be; free to think as I please; free to break off or engage - intellectually. I am free to never be understood or misunderstood. And best of all, I am allowing growth. Vows of silence are exercises in the lost art of silence.

And when we meet in the world of speech, in the world of contact, what will we exchange? Will it be wholesome and nourishing? Or will it be hurtful and denigrating? Will it demand dominance and adherence and rule making? What will we provide each other?

These words - on this paper - are an attempt to probe the 3-dimenstional texture that is silence - in my heart, in my head, in my daily activities. Silence will embrace us all and welcome us. It will open doors within - BUT at the expense of being more and more needful of being understood. This is the paradox. This is the dilemma.

So I will go on in my silence - never wishing to offend. Only hoping through silence, we can still make contact.

MB 2000

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