Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still. –Pablo Neruda
And he awoke, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, “Peace, be still. “ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.—Mark 4:39
She passes me in the early morning, without an acknowledgement, which, in the little bohemian neighborhood where I live, is a little weird. I mean, everybody talks to everybody around here. So when someone walks by you, with not eas much as a nod in your direction, it’s startling.
My dogs have even stopped sniffing the air as she goes by. “There goes the woman with the wires in her head and she never says what pretty dogs we are so she must be a cat and we will ignore her.” Dog religion sometimes comes to odd conclusions, like every other religion.
Me, I think it’s the wires. They are connected to something, and it isn’t the world.
The other morning just before dawn the trees were singing, their branches filled with songbirds warbling about spring. The trees joined in, with a whispy, raspy rhythm that sounded like Max Roach’s brushes. Behind all that were the sounds of the city waking up: the trainyard, the horns, the distant, fading siren. None of which I could have heard if I had wires stuck in my ears.
I’m not a person who likes the television on in the morning. (Or ever, actually.) I have come to rely on quiet to tell me how the world is today. Mostly, that’s because I don’t talk very well until my addled neurons begin to fire again. But this handicap of needing to be quiet has become a gift: I get to hear the world.
In Pablo Neruda’s poem Keeping Quiet,
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
The world is stormy, and it always has been. There never was a perfect time or place, when everyone lived in peace and happiness. The cosmos was born in a great explosion, and we now seem intent on recreating that Big Bang, only in a smaller edition, and confined to this planet only so that we can demonstrate why our way of life is superior to people who live on the other side of the planet. Blowing it all up seems, in an unaware, wires-in-the-ears sort of way, to be the only solution.
If only we could just stop for a moment and listen to the trees sing.