There has been so little silence for the past couple of weeks. The boys are off school and the background din that is a ten year old boy idling has filled the house... and the pool and the car and the backyard and the baseball diamonds.
Summer is louder than the cold quiet winter here in our corner of Ohio.
When I was a boy that was because of the crickets and the frogs and the wild wind that comes up before the wilder storm and the impotent by comparison ten o'clock fireworks at the local amusement park. I still hear those calls today as I sit on the screened-in porch of an evening, the same conversations between the frogs, and toads I suppose, mingle with the courting crickets into a maddeningly loud chorus, the snare-drum of the wind through the trees holds the noise high and long.
The very same park rumbles its evening fireworks, though I cannot see them climbing up over the trees and cornflower hills as I could as a kid, they somehow now are welcome echoes of those I watched so many times so many years ago.
Of course, here, now - this here, this now, not the one that will come or the one that has been, right now - in this burgeoning twenty-first century the noise is twofold. The crickets and frogs and storms are still shouting their ancient thanksgiving but so few hear their song of praise. The fans in our homes - the box fan that helps a boy sleep, the fan at the bottom of the stairs that brings up air into a humid and hot kitchen from the cool basement, the other fans that circulate that cool air and dehumidify it; the fans that whir in our lap and desktops not quite as imperceptible as we would like them to be; the ceiling fans in every room, the fan that vents the steamy air from the bathroom, the fan that runs in the toaster oven after the waffles are done, the fan that blows on my feet as I watch the pasta boil - create a constant hum, a somehow modern disharmonic chord that replaces natural ancient notes that will forever ring in our very souls.
There is indeed more than just the fans that feed that damned noisiness. Now of course there is the beeping and dinging and buzzing and creaking noise of our devices. Televisions are on, ear-buds are in but not unheard, timers set, water heaters whistling as only they do, the washer and dryer, the AC compressor, the numbing buzz of the flourescents above the workbench. The work on the street, constant so far this summer, even through the closed windows and doors.
I miss the solace of silence.
So I've turned off the dehumidifier. There is no laundry sloshing or thunking in the washer or dryer. The AC is quiet waiting for the morning to swelter, as it will. No bulbs are buzzing, few fans are whirring. The birds are quiet as is the wind. No storms roll in the western sky. The street is quiet right out front. The phone is silenced.
And yet, I have not found the silence I seek. It would seem that the outside noise was just covering up the inside din.
But, what is all this noise?
What is all this disharmony if it is not the outside modernity I wish to blame it on?
Why didn't this experiment work? Why can I not find the Silence which I know will soothe me?
It's me, isn't it?
I'm letting the noise in. I am arguing over things in my head, shouting at myself, doubting myself, hurting my own feelings. I feel like there is some loud, mad dash I should be entering in and if I don't all will be lost but I am afraid and intimidated by the madness of the dash and the conversation rolls and rolls through my mind, a giant boulder rumbling 'round like thunder.
And all the other ideas and thoughts and dreams and hopes chasing and screaming like a wild game of mind tag, hoping to win attention, in the din that is, inescapably, of my own making...
Look above three paragraphs there, that last question, I gave myself a hint at my answer. I arbitrarally capitalized Silence (on purpose perhaps, that’s up to you gentle reader) and that is indeed the silence that will soothe me.
The Silence that is Prayer. The Silence that is Thanksgiving.
The Silence that is everywhere, that has always been, that lingers between wind and the frogs and crickets, between the fanblades, between the backyard shouts and cracking bats. The Silence that is between the moments of noise, however fleeting, but always, always, there.
Sadly, perhaps ironically, I could only devote a couple of hours to this today so I set the timer on the humidifier, you know, that deal you make with it where it stays silent for a couple hours and then you let it do its thing when it comes back on.
It just came on, just as I finished that last sentence
The heat has indeed sweltered up and the compressor and fan came on just a few seconds later.
The work crews heavy equipment lumber closer, within hearing range.
I must start the washer now.
The stormclouds gray the western sky
And yet, somehow, I feel a pervasive solace, I hear a profound Silence, a deep Silence. Now that I am listening for it... Do you hear it, too?
I keep walking by this guy and he is so damn cute I took a picture:
I am always glad to have you stop by, sorry it was so noisy at first.