Friday, September 9, 2011


“A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live.” --Bertrand Russell

“All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”--Blaise Pascal

“Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day - like writing a poem or saying a prayer.”--Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind."– Albert Einstein

It seems, these days, I cannot find enough quiet, though I live in a relatively quiet town, on a quiet street, just when I think I will be able to sink into a pool of quiet, the train speeds by, blaring its horn. It doesn’t make me angry, I’m just startled by noise, as if there’s something forming inside me that needs the dead quiet of winter in a deep snowy valley to complete its making.

I was never a person who thought, Friday night, Saturday night! where will I go, what will I do? I come more from the type of people that go out on Monday or Tuesday nights, when places are less crowded, when lines are shorter. I despise malls and break out in hives during festivals (even if I love the idea of festivals). Most of the dancing I’ve done has been alone or with a friend or two in my kitchen or living room, the music spinning on my turntable or in a small boombox sitting on the floor. This is not to say I haven’t had loads of fun out dancing on a weekend or at a festival. However, the act of moving from the quiet inside me to the fullness of an event sometimes feels beyond me, like it will be a violence against my body. And lately, I feel I must honor that feeling and stay in, tuck myself into bed at an early hour with a book or the quiet of my mind. It’s a return, I suppose, to the safety of my mother’s womb. It honors, I believe, the idea that all music happens because of the silence between notes, and all poetry exists in what’s left unsaid.

My love of the quiet is probably why I’ve taken so heartily to the bass guitar. At its best, it’s the low hum beneath the surface of all the activity happening in the music, it’s the foundation that holds the rest of the instruments up and together. Bass lines are like stepping stones across a creek. It’s the quiet vibration that no matter how much silence there is in a day, helps remind me, I’m alive, of this earth.

If I’m racing around in the noise, if I don’t take moments of quiet throughout my day, to hear my breath, to connect to that part of me that’s connected to the center of the earth, then I crash. Quiet is the sustaining force in my life. It’s why I may go home after church instead of joining the others for conversation at coffee hour. Quiet is the great mother of new life. Something’s right around the bend, and if I sit still enough, and surround myself with enough quiet, I will have the chance to witness it.

Have you ever noticed, the more a person talks, the more he or she has a chance to lie? Love is quiet, made up of small consistent actions. I will not love again with words, but with quiet—vast swaths of it. And that’s what I’m spending my time doing now, weaving yards of quiet so I will have it available when you come along, ready to be loved.

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