Silence

Home from a month away. My body arrived in Monday afternoon, but it was during Wednesday night’s sleep that my soul arrived, singing down the silver cord from the Pacific. In between, I was a muddled mixture of hyper and soporific. Quan and I in the usual muddle also – relief and pleasure in each other’s company, but also negotiating bossiness, since we have both been the ruler of our respective domains for the time apart.

To come back to America is to come back to noise. Not that Asia was that quiet enviornmentally, but interpersonally, it is. A companionable silence is an easy thing there, and I got used to it – whereas folks in America seem to feel the need to fill in the empty spaces with talk, whether to the point or not.

A large winter storm chased in just after my return: it’s the 4th of April, and we are buried in a foot of snow, heavily wet, hard to shovel and plow, but we must get the cars moving. You can take a photo with b&w or color film and get the same picture, everything not man-made is a varient of white, black, or gray. The trees are a winter wonderland of gracefully bending branches. When the branches can bend no more, they dis-gracefully break with a loud report and a thunder thud of snow and pine needles. We spend the morning clearing branches that have fallen on the horse fences, into the rabbitat (thank God, no rabbits are hurt or killed), and across the driveways.

The falling branches also take out the electricity, and the house goes very quiet – all the usual hums are gone. As the day stretches on, however, the frozen food starts to melt and the house to chill, and we need water to give the animals, so we have to start the generator, the farting engine noise replacing the silence. How dependent we are on electricity, fossil fuels, noise, activity, creature comforts!

As I reach toward my sixties, I think increasingly of a retreat, some meditative place where the noises are removed so the silence can emerge.

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