Serenade of Silence
There were days when the quiet fascinated me. It kept my attention for hours on end, as if through my concentration on it I would find my deep long-sought answers. The lack of noise toyed with my mind, and I found myself waiting for the moment when one single sound might bring me back.
At times the sound never came, and like a person in a staring contest, I would lose by breaking the silence with a slight cough or a rustling of a small paper. The room itself never had the need to offer up a noise, a pittance of a sound. Nothing ever to break the silence it offered.
I came to look forward to the challenge of the quiet. Daring myself to stay longer and longer, and linger in the nothingness of it all. There were times I held my breath; afraid that just the slight sigh of air would signal the end of the silence.
Yet, with all the quiet around me, my thoughts spoke, entering in and out of my consciousness. Some were welcomed; others formed a conversation of their own begging me to emerge from the silence to utter a comment or two. There were times when I was tempted to join them. Perhaps even stand and walk, and give into the conversation or my internal debate. But I knew I would lose the connection to the silence so I forced those thoughts that tempted me to move on.
It was the room itself that began to betray the vow of silence. A sound from the street would enter through a window. Or a creak would escape from the wall perhaps adjusting itself to the heat or the cold of the day. A fan moving the air, making a whirling noise that were never evident before. It was the room that tired of the game, it gave distraction and sound which took away my lovely silence.
I began to resent what it took away. Not finding value in what the room now offered. My days within it were restless, not at peace, not achieving what I thought I gained from quiet. It made me pace, made me think. Walking back and forth through a familiar path I would stop and wait; had the silence returned? But more and more I heard sounds never evident from my first days in it. I swore, even the beat of my heart became stronger and stronger. I heard it through my chest, through my ears, its pulsing beat so distinct. My breath took on a raspy sound, clearly whistling with each intake. In or out, my breathing defiled the silence.
Then came the voices, the ones that at first stayed within the realm of my mind, then escaping the confines of my internal world echoing within the room itself. Not agreeing, arguing their purpose, their intent. Loudly they tried to sway each other, louder and louder their purpose became.
“Silence!” I would scream at them, but silence was a command they could not or would not hear.
Steadily over time I moved from the confines, the former comfort of a room no longer silent, trying other areas of the house. When that wasn’t satisfying enough, I escaped into the world of the garden behind the house, walled off from the world. I walked among the flowers, the pansies with their eyes all on me, the tulips bright with their spring colors. Within the overgrown plants and trees were the many winged creatures; birds singing or bees making their trips between hive and flowers. They all made sounds and refused to let silence drive them.
I caved, after a while I just surrendered. I sat in the garden without panic accepting noise, the life of the creatures and plants around me. Letting them all be, letting me be. One early morning I was startled to find myself whistling along with the sounds of the garden. Trying to be part of the world I for so long tried to avoid.
It felt good to let the whistled melody rise and fall just like the wings of the creatures around me. I was part of it and they part of me. It made me smile within, like some cosmic joke I had succeeded in inserting myself, bringing sweet music where it seemed so impossible just a short time ago. I walked the garden in victory, in confidence of that victory. Long strides moved my paces back and forth, urging me to extend further, perhaps beyond the wall, the latched gate of the garden.
Standing on the tips of my toes I looked over the gate, into the world that held more noise than I could ever imagine. I waited for the push or a sign to be offered, calling me out. Not hearing it, I returned to my pacing, my life around the garden walk.
Then came the day when the lure was too much. I took bold, strong steps and defied everything I had known and marched to the gate, flipped up the latch handle and pushed it open. Voices tried to stop me, but my mission, my plan was clearer than it had ever been. I walked through it, out of it, into the world at large. Conquering the gate had been easy, I thought. The courage of that victory led me further from the garden, along the side of the old house to the side steps of the large porch.
Grabbing the banister and I danced my way up the three steps and stood in my victory, surveying the world from the new dimension. Evidently, not ready to stop my advancement, I continued along the porch, passed the potted plants and the swing old with age, needing new paint. I leaned over the front of the porch railing, hands gripped around the old wood, stretching myself as far as I dared, looking outward into the world.
There I waited for what I didn’t know, perhaps a voice to congratulate my great victory. Perhaps a hello, a welcome into the world I had so long avoided. I looked to either side, searching for someone to bask in my great win. But the world seemed more silent than ever. It confused me; apparently I didn’t remember where silence could also be. Trusting myself further, I cleared the steps in the front of the porch and walked the path which led to the street.
It was then that I heard it, another voice, not of me, not of my head. I looked around to see it, to find it and hopefully understand what it said. It was a small girl, a young child four or five, calling out from the house across the way. Every time she called hello a small arm shot upwards, adding a small wave at the top of her fingers. I looked at my arm, my hand wondering if it could do the same. And it did! It did the wave, feeling good as it created the friendly movement. Now, my turn to call back, a small hello would work, even a quick hi would work. Some voice to reply to the little imp’s greeting.
I couldn’t find it, couldn’t find the words, the sounds to return back to her. Disappointed she turned away, starting to return to the garden on the side of her house where her mother was weeding.
Wait! Don’t go! I wanted to tell her, my eyes following the movement of her body. But I couldn’t do what I couldn’t do. Turning in disappointment I started back to the porch. It was then I formed the melody, the sounds extending from me through pursed lips. The serenade I had worked on for so long with the bees and the birds of the garden. I turned back to the street and worked passionately on the sounds which came from my lips. It was enough! My small hello imp turned back and began to dance with delight. Her mother, stopping her task, rose to watch both her and me. I let the melody take me, just like the silence once did. I swayed my body and arms to feel each note, each sweet sound.
The last note seemed to linger, seemed to take its time fading into the wind. I was done. I had given it all that I could and I was done. The young girl and the mother clapped their appreciation. The mother yelled out bravo! And the small girl joined in with her.
I laughed and bowed. Yes, I actually bowed and floated myself back up the steps, pushing the swing as I danced along the porch. I then skipped my way back into the garden. Enough I told myself, yes, yes, very much enough.