Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Surely silence has layers as nuanced as noise. The still in the room when a door has been opened speaks softly of loneliness and time long left out. Pauses in talks talk stronger than shouts. More can be learned from leftover air in an unopened vault. One would not think such examples could possibly compete with the shot of a gun or the snap of a finger. Abrupt, invasive sounds that stick like a pin into the skin of our lives. Our thoughts meander like wandering muses until something startles us out of ourselves and into another mode of apprehension. This shock strikes strong, but silence! Surely the sound of nothing at all can compare with the clangiest of clunks.

Were sound to be have been a manmade invention, would we have known it to hear it? A baby in the womb, shifting on its side and sleeping the sleep that only the unborn inhabit, could not wish such sounds to awaken his slumber. Ignorance of all things auditory may have been our original state. Only later, after birth, did we hear what we heard, but it may not have been in our celestial design for good or for long.

Perhaps man was not meant to hear. If the ear had developed in a different direction, sound itself would never be missed. Certainly the whisper of lovers, the tremble of fighters, the panic of the lost and the shrieks of the bereaved make our lives vital and taut, but have you ever turned off the sound of a TV and saw what was missed? Very little. Everything is clear. Nothing is absent except the extraneous. Hockey with sound is brutal and jarring; hockey in silence contains a tingle of grace. One could almost imagine that the deaf are the ultimate inheritors of God's true intent, and all of the rest of us are merely dead weight, hearing it all and listening to zilch.

To listen! Perhaps that is the point of the glut on our heads, the wings on the sides of our faces that stick out to the air like birds in a nest. Were we to wait for the rain to land in the puddle. Should we pause to tune in to the tempo of a tree's last branch as it bends and then sways and then falls to the earth. Could we but dwell in the laugh of a child's first chuckle. If such suspension were possible, then all would be music.