December 26, 2018

Thoughts on Silence

How noisy I am, trying to be quiet. The scrape of the chair, the rattle of a drawer, the shuffling sounds as I dig through my bags. I take my time, like a bird building her nest, putting things away, hanging others up, making room for art supplies.

When I awake at 2:30 am with another hot flash, I think about the retreat facilitator asking about the silence inside. What is the difference between quiet and silence? I notice it easy to share silence with my daughter, while I am often quiet with my husband.

With my daughter, walking together to work, after a few comments about the cats and the weather, we simply walk, we don't talk. Sometimes she's on her phone, texting, connecting, doing what she enjoys, the more virtual the relationship the better sometimes. She is intelligent and romantic, introverted, and has been reluctant at the best to learn how to drive, which is fine by me. Here is where I am generous, if not spoiling, I indulge her capricious whims and rarely ask her to help with housework beyond putting away the dishes. However, we get along, travel well together, give each other space, and she always rolls her eyes at my bad jokes.

My husband and I can be silent, but he has much to say, and I find it easier to be quiet than to respond to his politics and beliefs, an easy way to avoid an argument. And easy not to share my own perusals, simply because I think he will not take me seriously, like times during my Ph.D. program exploring alternative healing. Quiet can be the path of least resistance, but I worry the silence could erode our relationships as it has in my past. As they say, "Silence is consent."
I enjoy putting everything in its place, it's pleasing to me that all will remain just so for these few days, not dealing with other peoples their clutter, no incessant small talk, especially first thing in the morning when I am the most contemplative, the most reflective.

When I think about generosity, I recognize the need to give myself that space - whether I meditate or mess around on the computer playing games, it's my transition time to the day. Chip always wants to talk about dreams. I always want to respond. We are good together that way, but I've had to learn to adapt. I notice it was easier to pay attention to when we only had a few precious days each weekend. His daily neediness is as much of a mixed bag as how I feel about the cats - yes, I love you, but please get off my lap and out of my face. I need this time to compose myself for a day of clients,  let alone friends, daughter, husband, the cats.

As I flutter and mutter to myself after this good putter, I do notice the moments of stillness, the inner silence, the fleeting peace. Then the gerbil in my head starts up again, "...and then I'll get some coffee and then I'll take a shower and then I'll start on the watercolors..." It's not that this is a voice I do not want to listen to, but it is repetitive and unoriginal, it wears me out with its constant need for clatter and nose.

Being in silence helps me hear the birds, the creak of the stairs, the hum of my electric toothbrush that seems so out of place. Thank goodness I didn't bring my vibrator. Even the ubiquitous sound of my electric fan has been silenced. Spacing out through the window, it's easy to hear the cacophony of a sudden burst of honking, the traffic in the distance, tuning more closely into the hum of hummingbird wings, the cry of the raven. I notice the spiderweb threads, vibrating silver in the sunlight. What sounds, what music does it make with the wind? Will I be able to hear it as I go deeper within?

Blessed Be.