Does this happen to you? I rode my bike to work today. It's a short, easy commute along a wide, bike-laned boulevard, past the grocery store and the bowling alley and the yoga studio and the yogurt shop....to my office.
Today, it was cool so I bundled up in a few layers, put a mug of hot coffee in my backpack & set off. There were faded cherry blossoms and dew-dropped dogwood flowers along the way beneath grey, rain-streaked skies. Sounds kind of boring, doesn't it? In the fifteen minutes it takes me to glide from home to work, the words percolated just enough to arrange themselves into a poem, an idea for a series of photographs, and the start of a short story.
Once, Fight Club author Chuck Pahlaniuk, who still lives not too far from me, spoke at a meeting that I attended. He said, "Unplug. Turn it off. Do it. Listen to nothing. Turn. It. Off." He was/is right. We're surrounded by noise all the time. It's unavoidable, for most people these days, unless we make a decision to r-u-n-o-f-t to start a homestead in Alaska or make an effort create little spaces in our existance in which to breathe deeply. This is the silence and peace of just being. There are no sirens here, or cement trucks or cell phone ring tones. I read some Thoreau last night and it reminded me that a walk in the woods isn't a luxury, really. It's a decision. Still. Even walking into a library or going for a jog at lunchtime, can take us away from the cyclone of noise in which we reside. Anyway, today the words arranged themselves into something. And it was good.
There is a place I love, way out in the eastern Oregon outback, that is the most peaceful, most silent place on earth. I wrote this poem about it. Seems fitting for this post. Unplug. Let the words arrange themselves. There's a little happy magic there.
I know of a place, where the Milky Way
still paints the night sky
and noise pollution is yet unknown
Unbind me from this endless
clatter and hum.
Let me slip unseen
from this noisy, wasteful,
Hear nothing, listen
Leap into the heart of a
wind-whipped dust devil,
Dance in endless
gyration across circles of time,
generations of silence and hear
the quiet so loud that toes
bare as hoof and soft pat of sole all goat
and cat and wild boar clinging
to stone spire are deafening.
Perfect prints in damp edges
along alkaline lakeshore, etched
in stone and carved flake by flake.
No rough motor,
no whirring blade, only
whispered rustle and swirl.
Bird on branch, water on stone,
sunlight on skin.
I heard nothing once.