Saturday, March 20, 2010


It is becoming clear to me, as I get older, why we remember loved ones with a moment of silence.
Because, fellow citizens of the planet, silence is becoming a more valuable commodity in our society with each noisy, passing second.

I go to the movies and find people cavalierly chatting at normal voice. When I ask them politely to be quiet they look at me with astonishment. As if they are thinking what could possibly be bothering him??. I ask the people in th courtyard who are making themselves known to every single person in the apartment complex to keep it down because it's late and there's not a jot of understanding. But then I remind myself: if a person is under 25 (and please don't think me to be too much beyond that, even though this blog is already in danger of sounding like it was written by a fogie), they have lived most of their conscious life with a cellphone to check, an email to send, a song to download and listen to anywhere anytime, or any number of televisions and 'background' music blaring in almost any public space.

We are losing touch with the healing, empowering connection to silence. As a child, I remember long road trips with my family during which we'd find ourselves driving through wilderness at night. I would stare blissfully out at all that blackness, feeling an urge similar to what many people feel standing at a cliff's edge: the impulse to throw oneself with abandon into the silent, infinite abyss. As I would lean my head against the damp, cool car window, a large industrial facility would come into view, lit as if by ten thousand fluorescent lights, destroying the engulfing tranquility that had been present just a moment before. In those moments to this day, I wonder if there is really anywhere one could go to find freedom our artificial noise and machinery anymore. I suspect not.

Which brings me to the only solution for us: reconnect with our own silence. Listen more than we speak, as spiritual teacher Anique Radiant Heart said to me recently. Never be afraid to explore the void (and opportunity) that lies between our literal, verbal exchanges.

Maybe if we can become more aware of the silence within, we'd more often seek the silence without. To discover that, we'd need to de-industrialize, deconstruct and detach from the machine of consumerism and the fallacy of economic 'growth' and all the frenetic, chaotic and violent activity that all too often comes with it. Luckily, we can begin to effect this change on our own personal stage. The manifest ways to go about it are for each one of us to creatively discover.

Finally, it means detachment from the noisiest part of our consciousness: our ego. We don't always have to respond, have to retort, have to retaliate. We don't need to always advertise to people that we're here; nor do we need to reassure ourselves that we are alive by spinning our mind into a frenzy with drama and a learned obsession to 'prove ourselves' to the rest of the world.

Maybe tomorrow those people outside my apartment window will rediscover the meaning and value of silence and lower their voices. Maybe the guy in the movie will accidentally fall quiet and realize he could actually be in a position to be affected by the film he's watching. Maybe I'll stop indiscriminately blasting people on the road with my horn every time I make the judgement that they're not driving well enough.

That's the greatest thing about being alive: as long as your mind and heart are open and receptive, you always have the chance to grow.

1 comment:

  1. The sounds of silence......Simon and Garfunkle sang about it all those years ago....back in those halcyon days when people were being concerned and politically active....the flower power days of intoxicating demonstrations and passion abounding.I was but a young thing then, and the meaning of silence was about as far from my consciousness as the moon!

    Today the Moon is my sister and silence is my lover as I sit on my back veranda listening to the sounds of nature. No one is talking, no one is moving, just the birds flitting here and there and the dog breathing on my lap. How I love the silence......the space between the inbreath and the outbreath. The silence of a dark night when the Moon is in repose and hiding her glorious light beneath a cloak of mystery, busy in another part of the world. The silence of the house when I wake sometimes in the early morning and find inspiration pouring from my fingertips into the keyboard of my computer. The silence of the bush, until your ears drop their defenses and the millions of little sounds of LIFE filter through your consciousness. How divine and how Divine.

    But best if all, the companiable silence that falls like a mantle of love over two people in perfect accord...not needing to say anything....knowing each other is feeling the same joy and peace in their togetherness. We know this silence.

    I love you......
    A x