As I wait for the coffee to brew and the old laptop to boot up I look out the north window. There is a light fog made yellowish blue from the street lights. The ground and the sky appear to blend together like an impressionist painting. There is just a touch of hoarfrost but not enough to motivate me to photograph it.
It’s four in the morning so the fog hushes the quiet early morning even more. If you can imagine turning down the volume of a stereo playing a recording of silence, you’d have an idea about the sweet silence enveloping the town.
Earlier this week my friend Jonathan mentioned that someday he wants to try experiencing a sensory deprivation tank. He wonders if doing so will diminish or increase his feelings of anxiety. He’s worried that having no physical point of reference will trigger a panic attack. I advised Jonathan to talk about this with his counselor.
I can understand my friend’s dilemma because I’ve pondered the idea of experiencing a sensory deprivation tank, too. Does the person experience the most complete silence a living being is possible to experience due to all of the senses being muted? Would the monkey mind be silenced or would he flail around in panic as Jonathan fears?
He shifted the topic to the perfect silence of Outer Space. Although Space, itself, is silent, there would be the sounds created by the mechanisms and movement within a space suit. He wonders exactly how silent it is for an astronaut taking a space walk. Is it more silent outside wearing a spacesuit or inside the spacecraft without the suit? Jonathan said that the questions fascinate him, but he has no desire to personally go into orbit around the Earth.
My friend Linda never seems to be comfortable with silence. In many ways, she is a stereotypical “chatterbox”. I cannot recall ever being with her and sharing a silent moment. I once considered asking Linda’s husband if she talks in her sleep. I didn’t because the question is quite rude. She now lives in Missouri so I don’t hear her anymore.
Meantime, the coffee is nearly ready. I glance out the window at the dark city shrouded in fog. The fog enables the contemplative mind. Silence is a vast, yet simple state.
“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.”–Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Then there is the deeper silence of authentic contentment with oneself. This silence can be revealed by observing a foggy, early morning. The silence of the morning is contagious to those who mindfully listen. This blending of silence is the food of wisdom. It’s ironic that the morning fog does not lead to foggy thinking.
Silence enables one to be fully aware of every feeling and thought. One is able to determine how objective or subjective one’s observations are. If the observer lets go, one can begin to understand thoughts, emotions, and attachments to points of view. Out of this mental silence comes personal peace and subtle joy.
The Blue Jay of Happiness contemplates some lines from Khalil Gibran.
“Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the Earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”