Silence, so goes the saying, is golden. I'm not sure what that means.
Gold is shiny. It is very, very heavy. It is a relatively abundant element yet tends to be too widely dispersed in the environment for it to be easily accumulated in large amounts. It is extremely useful technologically, and for some reason people like it. It is even a safely edible metal - gold can do us no harm (unless a bunch of it falls on your foot or something) but its extraction from ore tends to be a very toxic process indeed.
Silence could be reminiscent of any or all of these qualities. But that's the thing about silence - silence isn't saying. In any case, those who seek gold do so mainly for what it signifies, rather than for its usefulness to a real-life purpose. Those who seek silence, on the other hand, tend to seek a deep quality of experience.
Being of a contemporaneously omenological bent (I like to pay attention to clustered events or signifiers as indicative of something worth feeling out beyond the mere use of our ordinary sensorium - that is, I 'read the signs' in life) I note well how the theme of silence surrounds me at present. As does silence itself.
Ironic, for such a wordy chap, to be speaking so of his silencing.
I posted back HERE in March 2010 on my thoughts about losing my vocal abilities. I've been toughing it out ever since, making do, adapting, using Internet Relay for the phone, doing as much bureaucratic and commercial stuff as possible online and via email, and of course having a social life almost entirely by the written word. But a day or two ago, I had no voice for an entire day.... It. Just. Didn't. Work. Even with a whole breath per syllable and being as gentle or forceful as I could be; nada. I crossed the watershed, and allowed The Realisation to seep in deeply - it is over now. Speech has gone. In that post closing in on two years ago now I spoke of my petty fears and my deeper ones. I put forth that I would try to let go with some grace. Well, if I am to judge myself on the latter, I wouldn't give a very high mark. Never mind; grace comes in good time.
So it's been a little while since I heard much of myself. Habit is dying hard (as they also say) so I've tried to speak a few times, and I have yet to work out a few little details; like how to communicate with the dogs on those important matters of "no", "sit", "go lie down", "wait", and importantly "good dog". Using the iPhone program I have (the excellent Proloquo2Go) is not an easy conversational replacement either. Typing is problematic for me at the best of times, and timing is vital to ordinary conversation so - very quickly I've settled in to a vibe of only saying what's necessary, or framing a simple line with clear intent. What I'm saying is that it's been much quieter round here, word-wise.
But you can't make an omenological observation on just this - one swallow doth not a summer make after all. (There they go saying things again, and who are these they that so fill our heads with these pithy flippant lines?). No - silence has been approaching stealthily yet in plain view, from many fronts, simultaneously. You actually can hear it coming. I am reminded of the sound of Mexico City over Christmas, when more than half the cars are off the roads or out of town and all the noisome businesses shut. The silence creeps in from the mountains around.
All the neighbours left over Christmas. Some of them have left for good, and others seem to be living there only part-time. At any rate a lot of loud kids have departed; barky dogs and shouty parents too. A series of events has led me into e-conversation with a Buddhist centre, one that specializes in assisting the dying, and of course the whole core of the practice in Buddhism is silence. Or stillness, or something. The things I'm reading all seem to feature silence as a theme. And then Facebook decides to partly silence me by making sharing things more difficult, most especially these blog posts. (I suspect it's part of a Cold War between FB and Google, like the way FB quickly killed the apps that let you post on FB and Google+ simultaneously). There are many little examples and pointers I could winkle out for you here but it's obvious to me what the theme of the moment needs to be for me. And I admit, I am as powerfully drawn as I am egoistically repelled. For the ego seems to cease to exist in real silence (the inner kind), it truly does.
The message for me is that of imbalance. It's not an extreme position or massive inversion of my worldview that's called for; the message is that I'm ignoring silence far too much for my own good. As my disease is a perfectly-tuned spur to grow through my unique karmic deals so is my final loss of speech a finely wrought - indeed golden - opportunity to experience the opposite of my erstwhile moment-to-moment habit. You know, that thing where we humans always feel the urge to speak.
The astute observer may have noticed this tendency creeping in more and more with my written communications as well. Fewer blog posts, less Facebook blathering. The focus has shifted qualitatively also. There's more room for the silence. And this increases the value of that which I do say, I think.
Silence and stillness are very closely related, aren't they? As my body continues to contract and my abilities of movement diminish, so the urge towards just sitting increases. Stillness has stalked me like silence. I need reading glasses now, but besides this reading can be physically uncomfortable. Watching TV is more difficult with the aircon on; I don't like it to be too loud and obnoxious. Writing here is painful after 20 or 30 minutes. In a beautifully self-sabotaging twist my main music repository, my iPhone, is the very device I also use to 'speak', and only a week or two prior to Christmas did we re-sell an iPod that we'd never used (because I had the phone) thus meaning I can now either listen to music OR speak. Oh hey, I'm not meaning to screed out a litany of complaint, I'm just reading to you some of the signs. And they're all pointing to conscious stillness and silence.
I wonder, right now, why it is I feel moved to say any of this. Perhaps I simply wish to see it in front of me, to 'speak' and thus validate my thoughts on the matter.
What we say becomes what we think. What we think becomes what we do. What we do becomes who we are. Or so they say.
So what happens when we say - even inside our own heads - nothing?
It's no wonder people fear silence. It's the sound of death.
Bring it on now, I say. I'm ready to listen properly.
Two last things: Please remember I am still open to receiving help with my final stillness as the me that I am; you can donate to my natural burial fund here, that I may compost nicely when the moment arrives:
Secondly, this blog will quite likely end here soon, and be shifted over to an alternative blogging platform. It seems if I want to remain free to speak (and I do for now, in this way at least) then a freer way is to avoid the internecine strife between the Net Titans. Maybe wordpress, or something. Just a heads-up, OK?