Not speaking and speaking are both human ways of being in the world, and there are kinds and grades of each. There is the dumb silence of slumber or apathy; the sober silence that goes with a solemn animal face; the fertile silence of awareness, pasturing the soul, whence emerge new thoughts; the alive silence of alert perception, ready to say, “This… this…”; the musical silence that accompanies absorbed activity; the silence of listening to another speak, catching the drift and helping him be clear; the noisy silence of resentment and self-recrimination, loud and subvocal speech but sullen to say it; baffled silence; the silence of peaceful accord with other persons or communion with the cosmos. ~ Paul Goodman: novelist, poet, playwright, and psychiatrist
Be still. A daily practice of silence bears gifts — a heightened sensitivity to beauty, deep inner peace, and a profound feeling of connectedness to all living things. ~ Cheryl Richardson
Let silence take you to the core of life. ~ Rumi
I suggest that just once in a while, you make a conscious decision to keep yourself to yourself. ~ Danielle LaPorte
Natalie Goldberg once wrote that while she was in the middle of writing a novel, she carried the characters around with her, wondering what they’d say or think or do in all sorts of situations she’d find herself in.
Writing for my blog affects me like that. After days and weeks of posting, I start experiencing the world through the filter of what would make a post you might enjoy; what might be an uplifting photo, a moving song, an inspiring poem. Then slowly, imperceptably, I start to feel like it’s a channel I can’t switch off. I’ll be driving along and instead of enjoying the moment, there’s a flash of frustration as I wish I had a notebook or a phone or a camera. I start to feel like I’m carrying a community around in my heart, in my head. Communing even when I’m not at my laptop, logged in.
Sometimes, channeling, distilling and filtering the world stops me from simply being.
That’s one of the reasons I take frequent and often abrupt breaks from my blog, even though I love it; I need to reconnect with the real world around me and rediscover the silence that feeds my creativity like an underground pool.
Sometimes, it’s just exhaustion after a tough time being a sandwich generation mum and daughter.
But this time? During our wonderful, rejuvenating family holiday in Greece, we were heartbroken to learn that the referendum result meant the UK would be leaving the European Union, something most Scots would rather not do.
The day after we got home, a beloved friend told me she’d been diagnosed with cancer. So many phonecalls like those in the last few years.
Shock and grief always make my husband and I recalibrate, determined to create, to enjoy loved ones, details and moments. Last summer we threw ourselves into creating a new patio and building a cheap but pretty summer shed, a new perspective in the garden to enjoy the birds, the plants and views of nearby hills.
One of the blackbirds from a family who was born on our bathroom window ledge had become so tame, he’d tap on the kitchen window for food, or sit beside us and clear the scraps from our plates. My dad, 92 now, was absolutely mesmerised and started to sit in the garden casually eating strawberries, just in case…
The blackbird kept my son and me company while we dug out turf; his wee friend, a scrawny robin, stopped us working as he ate worms next to our spades.
We were inspired; my son, home from university, worked alongside me in disbelieving silence, stopping every five minutes just to enjoy the birds’ antics.
Every evening and weekend, I coped with my friend’s news by working on this new garden. I looked forward to showing you the before and after photos. My husband dug up old bushes and laid slabs, and working wordlessly side by side, we pruned, we painted fences and the grand finale was removing Leylandii trees that had become overgrown and hideous.
I clung to the daily presence of those birds like a talisman.
A few days after I took these photos to share with you, the robin and the blackbird disappeared. Distraught, I realised that by tidying up the garden, we’d destroyed their safe, messy, overgrown, cat and sparrowhawk deterring habitat.
I logged off, put away my gardening gloves and chose silence.
November brought the wintery news of Trump’s election, stunning millions of people into head shaking disbelief. My husband and I both got ill.
I lost faith, lost friends and Christmas came and went. I thought of you and almost shared some old year new year thoughts by candlelight and mulled wine but couldn’t summon the strength.
Last week there was a whisper of fresh warmth in the air and the days seemed longer.
The snow from yesterday’s storm is melting, and in every room, bright jugs of shop bought rainbow tulips have got me wondering whether the bulbs I scattered and planted last year will bloom.
And here I am again, spring cleaning my online home and listening for blackbirds.