305: “Unsaid” (Ursula K. Le Guin)

“Listen, listen, a lesser voice,
a whisper of the wind on stone
along the river’s drouth-white bed,
the shadow of the word unsaid.”
-Ursula K. Le Guin, from “Talk Shows”

                Lately I’ve noticed myself feeling quiet. And I’ve noticed that, with how often I look for meaning through words, I’ve tried to find words for my quiet. I’ve looked for a story to explain my storyless-ness. Words and sentences are what I turn to first when I’m trying to work something out, when I’m trying to build a stage where a voice can speak. What about when the speaker isn’t a speaker, and doesn’t want to say anything at all.
                Listen. Listen. Or maybe we can even go past listening, and sit with the sky and the dry riverbed instead of the river. Before I left Illinois, I went for a long walk with a good friend. We watched birds. We talked. We sat in a meadow. I have this image of my mind as a high plateau. Along the edge of it, on those down slopes, is where I channel water into whatever work I try to do. It’s where I gather momentum toward projects and ideas. Up on the plateau is sky and earth. Rain, sometimes. None of it has a purpose yet. I described that to my friend, and said I wanted to spend more time letting the water gather. That way, later, I would have something to direct. My friend said that sounded nice, but they added it didn’t need to be that way. Maybe there would be water. Maybe there would be sun. And all this, this here, there already was.
                The first time I wrote this, I tried ending with describing something we sat with in that meadow. Then I tried asking you for something—a glimpse of what you’re sitting with. But that’s me looking for words again. Maybe you don’t need to tell me. Maybe we’ll just sit.

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