on silence

Silence

Propped up in the bed holding the book, I must have been so chained down to the story that when the fly came barreling straight past my left ear, I nearly yelled. It was early morning, the kind of early morning that really belongs to the late evening before, and I was sucking the words off every page. I had become so silent that I was more startled by the fact that a fly could buzz past me than I was by the fly itself.

I laughed at my overreaction, and went immediately back into the book. Of course, thirty seconds later, the same fly and the same startled overreaction. Four times this happened. Every time, I was caught completely unaware.

 

Silence

I stretched out on an empty bench, looking at the great mountain as my park backdrop, thinking for just a moment about the perfect Sunday afternoonishness of it all, and I started to read. Silence.

But the silence was different this time. It was loud.

The winds were so strong that I could hear them crashing into my ears. That was the foreground noise, and the people and kids playing, laughing and running were the background noise. I could hear all kinds of things, and yet nothing at all. My mind had quieted completely. It was a perfectly loud, Sunday-afternoon kind of silence.

 

Silence

I think of times when I knew a horrible conversation of conflict was about to happen, or a horrible event was unfolding, and everything­­––whether there was other audible noise or not didn’t matter––everything became so silent.

Except for my heartbeat.

My body became cavernous and my heartbeat became connected to a loudspeaker that only I could hear. It’s the kind of silence I would try to turn down the volume on. My dry swallows become unbearably hearable.

Heartbeat. Heartbeat.

 

Silence

And then, just after those conversations start, a new silence comes and muddles out the heartbeat and swallowing silence. A certain kind of peace arrives, a clarity around the words being spoken, the truth of the people speaking the words. From the loud-heartbeat-silence I begin to hear the truth, and things quiet down.

The conversation has started: I can see where it will end.

The car is spinning off the road: I can tell I’ve lost all control.

A new kind of silence emerges.

A kind of chosen silence.

A kind of you-don’t-have-to-understand-me silence.

A kind of this-is-where-I-am silence.

This is who I am.

This is who you are.

This is where we are.

This is where we are not.

A kind of this-is-what-this-is silence.

 

 

 

djordan
Cape Town

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