Monday, May 3, 2010

The sound of silence

This appeared in The SA Times on Saturday.

Sounds of everything. Or those of nothingness. Noises of things man-made meant to aide or entertain, entering my world without consent. People. Lots of people. Loud chatter, soft whisper, superimposed laughs, screams, grunts and howls filling the space. Constant distractions beckoning from all angles. Decibels making unpredictable waves on a graph. Applause at a slam dunk on the big screen. Turn tabling by a DJ with a pink bandana. Heart thumping beats from massive speakers. Tapping of heels on the dance floor. A colorless drink spilling. A fancy glass breaking. A careless teen slipping. Urban entertainment unleashed. Sounds of everything. Or those of nothingness? It's everything I love until I start craving some natural quiet.

I think what I might be craving is a still place. Like a canyon. Or a glacier. Or a dense forest. Some place that gives an illusion of remarkable stillness and tranquility. Some place where mechanized intrusions are rare as snow on a tropical island. Some place where I can guess if a cricket is infuriated or rejoicing by the emotion in its sound. Some place where I can hear ice melting. Some place where I can hear the echo of my own thoughts.

The closest semblance to silence I can get during routine life is when I lay motionless in my bed trying to fall asleep late at night but my brain is completely out of fuel at that point to bask in the quiet. To breathe it in. To absorb it. I heard once that the longest one can experience natural quiet is about fifteen minutes in certain secluded parts of the world. Not sure I would need more. Not sure if I can survive more. May be its just what I need to recharge my batteries, to fight stress and to clear my head. But it could potentially do more than provide some rejuvenation therapy. It could perhaps aid in identifying the profound questions that I’ll need to answer at some juncture. It could perhaps assist in dismissing the trivial issues that remotely threaten daily equilibrium. It could perhaps provide ultimate gratification that materialism can never.

No points for guessing that soon as I sign off, I'll be back to an evening of ipod entertainment, some unconvincing young reporter blurting out news in the background and a squealing kid, but I'll leave you with this. "There was in this immensity… a silence so profound that soon all the noises from the life around us on the Rim were lost in it, as if our ears had been captured forever, drowned in these deeps of quiet.”
Never experienced it, have you? Me neither. And yet, it sounds so attainable!

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