Two guys walk into a bar…
If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it…
These set ups can lead us almost anywhere… a joke, a lively debate on theory and philosophy…
But for some reason, the sound or sounds of silence keeps popping into my head. The song, yes… but the whole idea of silence and what it means. Its power and its loneliness… Its ability to soothe and torment… to calm and unnerve.
How many times in a movie had you heard the main character say something like, “It’s too quiet in here. I don’t like it.”
Yet when meditating, that silence is a state of mind we yearn to get to… where the brain is quiet and still and we can focus on our breath and the positive, and the spiritual.
As I sit alone on a Sunday morning, this Sunday morning, looking out a window, it is still… calm… no breeze, no wind… and it is quiet… beyond quiet… In fact, one might even say silent. But is it?
I hear the hum of the DVR… occasionally a bird chirps… my ears are still ringing from the raucous Rock n’ Roll music from the night before. So I ask myself, is there really such a thing as silence… or complete silence. I don’t think there is. And of course the irony is that the quieter we get, internally… the more sounds in the world… subtle and soft… start to come alive. We become acutely aware of so much more… so much outside of ourselves and we realize that life goes on and does not ever stop moving… and does not ever stop singing.
Suddenly I hear a dog bark, which makes my dog bark and there you go. Broken silence. I try to get back to it, but realize that my brain is now on another plane… focused on the day-to-day chores and things I have to do… reading about all that is going on in the world… and that peacefulness, for the moment, is gone…
I remember waking up this morning, literally, with some lyrics from Rush’s “Dreamline” in my head. How odd. They popped in upon waking… or perhaps I was dreaming in lyrics… something I have never done… At least I don’t think I have…
“We are young, wandering the face of the earth
Wondering what our dreams might be worth
Learning that we’re only immortal for a limited time.”
That’ll mess with you. On my computer I see pictures from the Philippines… Haunting… devastating. Is that what it was about? Or just a reminder to myself to live life, and to do what I said I am going to do… what I want to do… what I dream to do… because life is short and precious and perhaps best filled with music and sound.
I settle back into the silence… and like a good DJ… I fade up on the song that puts a good deal of this in perspective… at least for me.
Simon & Garfunkel – “The Sound Of Silence”
The gentle guitar… and then…
“Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence.”
Born in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination, the song, of course, has deep historical and political relevance, but it is also personal… and specific and deeply human. Art tells us in this clip, that it is about the inability to communicate… the inability for people to love each other.
But then it is put out into the world, and like any great master work, it goes far beyond its initial definition and becomes part of the consciousness… it’s meaning left for others to find and discover upon each listening. The song is at first the artist’s… and then it is ours.
It becomes personal and moving to anyone who takes the time to hear it. It’s like staring at Picasso’s “Guernica”. The history behind it helps give it meaning… perspective… understanding… or at least helps us grasp the reason for the birth… the impetus for creation… but then it grows up in the world and gives every single person who sees it… in a book , art history class or if lucky enough, in front of them, in a museum or gallery… something entirely different.
A picture paints a thousand words… but a word… and a song, paint a million pictures.
May this Sunday bless you with peace and music… and whatever gives you pleasure and bliss, be it sounds or silence.