In the careful decision to peacefully sit in his living room with no music, no phone, no books or television, he hoped for the sweet comfort of silence. He listened to the white sounds in the background, like the hum from the neighbor’s air conditioners, the airplanes flying in and out of JFK, or the cars driving down Flatbush Avenue, at a safe distance. He carefully examined the brown sounds of the blue jays, hawks, canaries and a myriad of other birds he couldn’t name, but wish he did. He did not hear any pigeons and found that to be rather amusing. There were occasional dogs barking, a giggle from a child, or a door to a patio opening up. How lucky must these people be, to live in New York and be able to afford the outdoor space?
In this mix of delight and anxiety produced by the sounds of early morning he hoped to find clarity and direction. He hoped these moments of stillness would bring him closer to a solution to the many dilemmas that haunted him. He felt elated by the ability to be still and alone without wanting to rush to the left or the right. Sometimes he wondered if his life would’ve been easier had he been born an idiot, a complete clunk. He thought of those people who only own one sheet and one shoe and yet cherish them like gold, without desiring for anything other than what they have. Who are these people? Do they understand the world they live in? Have they always been this way or did life condition them into passiveness?
These are thoughts that go through his head. Certain times these thoughts can be perversive, and their simple occurrence frightens him. Would he really be able to act on any of them? Do other people also carry darkness within their bright spectrum?
In the silence he sat, trying to block out the white noises until he accepted them for lack of choice. He really did believe he was listening to the silence, but the silence was listening to him all along. Like a sponge, the muggy air of the late summer soaked in the thoughts that seeped through his soul, the air was drenched. Perhaps all that humidity he was feeling was in fact a product of his own thoughts?
The silence is quiet and pensive, it pushes you to arrive at your own conclusions. That’s how he felt then, as if he was making progress in his interval for sanity. The truth is that the silence fed the thoughts back to him, filtered, unscrambled, clear of pollution. He suddenly had the answers he needed. Only the ones he needed, not the ones he wanted.
Faces and gestures remained in the membrane that separates the body from the soul. He was pulled towards these faces of people he had known and not spoken to for more than ten years. At college, some of these people seemed as if they would last for an eternity, but they vanished faster than a sunset.
He thought of his friend who lived alone in an island and wondered about her well-being. He decided it was time to check in. He felt guilty but warm too, for having her in his thoughts was like having his old pal sitting next to him talking trivial talks, like the maintenance of a swimming pool or the life of a circus freak. He missed those talks and wondered how was it possible that they had now gone over three months without even exchanging a single text message. He pondered whether he had done her wrong in any way but decided none of that had anything to do with anything anyway.
He pushed the thought away to return to the silence but her face kept coming back as if it was magnetized and being pulled by his aura. Finally, a new thought came and the moment became a new minuscule obsession about interest rates on credit cards. He made an immediate financial decision and then realized he still hadn’t changed the mailing address for the cable bill. In the busying of his head he was still in silence.
This occupied silence spoke to him in intense waves. He shed a tear first, then two more, for no particular reason. His chest felt swollen and the only solution was an unconscious physical reaction. He took a deep breath and shed a laugh instead. He now felt blissful, in ecstasy. He felt ignorant. He felt irrelevant. How beautiful it is to be irrelevant, a human among humans, without titles or borders. He cursed on technology and then apologized for it. He realized how lucky he was. He realized how real he was. He felt valued, not by others, but himself. This was a novel thought, perhaps even an epiphany. The silence was talking to him, the silence was telling him things he never knew, things no friend, mentor or therapist had ever said. The silence told him to push through and be strong. The silence told him to come back, every day, and more would be revealed. It was now up to him, only up to him.