“Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.”
-Khalil Gibran, “On Death”
Earlier tonight, a friend told me, “It does make me sad sometimes that I don’t seem able to talk about silence. That I can’t say very much about something that’s so important to me.” I asked them if they wanted to spend more time talking about it, and so try to develop language, or if they wanted to embrace silence as a way of knowing apart from words.
“Both,” they said. We laughed. It’s so often both. We sat outside beneath a string of bistro lights.
I have been feeling quiet lately. Like sitting with the moment before a leaf falls, fluttering. I’ve also been feeling loud. Talkative. I’m trying to focus on building community. On finding and being part of a web of people who support each other. While staying safe with COVID, I want to make the time and space to meet new friends, invite them out to do things, say yes when I’m invited. I’ve also noticed when I’ve been talking and thought, huh. I’ve thought, that’s not what I meant. I wanted—I want—what do I want? The being together, after so much time apart?
I love Gibran’s cycles. Singing comes after we’ve drunk from the river of silence. After we sing, I think, we can go back for another drink. Usually, when I feel out of touch with silence, I’ll try to push myself “one way” or “the other.” I try to drown out the silence by listening to something, or else try to enforce it by ordering myself to sit wordless for however long. As though there are only two, and we stand on one side or the other. As though the river has no sound.
My friend and I sat beneath a line of bistro lights. They swung a little in the wind, and behind them lay dark sky. In that there was so much—more than two, more than three; as much as a changing current—of what I wanted.