Today was Thursday, wasn’t it?
Honestly, it slipped my mind. It always happens like this: I get so accustomed to the day-to-day of the school year that, when it abruptly ends about this time, I forget what day it is. Every day feels like Saturday, or Friday afternoon, or some Sundays… You get the picture. There are two things I notoriously admit to lacking: The first is depth perception. The second is a sense of time.
Neither of which has anything to do with being thankful. In fact, I almost don’t feel much to be thankful for today–to put it lightly, I’ve been in one of those moods. Yesterday I went to the used book store, hoping to find one movie I really wanted…and instead, they had almost nothing I wanted to buy. I was disappointed. I finished watching the entire first season of my favorite TV show on Tuesday. I spent most of today cleaning. And every guy I start to talk to, either ends up not talking, or becoming friends with no hope of becoming more than that.
It’s depressing, the encroaching New Year. I’ll probably speak of that some other time.
Today I need something to be thankful for.
The hustle and bustle of life is annoying. It’s vexing. It’s aggravating and ominous. But then there’s silence. I once wrote an entire story about a forest called Silence. I didn’t know at first the forest’s name was Silence, since it started as one story, then gained two more parts, and through that the name was revealed…. In any case, a special thing happened when you entered Silence. Such a special thing it was, that it was misunderstood and made evil: Young children were told tales of this forest and warned not to stray too close to its trees.
Then one day Marion slipped inside…and ceased to exist. A special thing indeed. The story itself goes deeper, the story itself intertwines solitude and longing, love, loss, hope, repeat, and portrays the life and the death of every character to step foot inside the forest (as well as the forest itself), but that’s a story for another day.
The interesting thing is that Silence became a thread throughout a small number of my other stories as well. One called “Sweet Nothings” (that had little to do with the story itself, but I liked how it sounded) takes place in the same forest hundreds of years later, and even later is a story called “The Edge of Darkness” (wherein one more steps into non-existence, but this time through a doorway, not through the trees). Both stories, however, (or all three to five, numbering depending, if you include the others) need much work to be publishable, let alone readable in the least. There’s one more, also, now that I think of it, in which the Silence itself is misconstrued and made malicious. Those monsters beneath your bed? They had to come from somewhere, after all. That story was called “Behind Closed Doors” and one day I’d like to write a sequel called “Beyond the Open Doors,” but before I get to that, Tucker and his little sister Michelle need some rewriting.
I think I was speaking of something special in the Silence: That something special is not just the story itself, this sentient forest if you will, but that these three stories–the only of these to feature the forest itself as a character–were all written in silence. The first part was written on a bus ride near nightfall. The others, in my bedroom at night. They were all also handwritten, something I very rarely do, but enjoy doing when given the chance. My hand-written pieces are all a bit dissimilar to my typed prose: They come out less detailed, less descriptive, and somehow because of this, more active, more thematic. It’s an odd comparison, one I should perhaps exploit more thoroughly.
Silence is overrated. Or rather, it’s overgeneralised. We equate silence with quietness: Sitting lakeside at GTCC in the company of a certain someone was quiet, and lovely (and I’ve been thinking of it a lot lately, wishing to relive those moments), but it wasn’t silent. Even sitting in the rain in the middle of a park was quiet, but not silent. Playing my music in my room may seem quiet, but it’s not silent. There is an abundance of quietness all around us–from the car without music as we hear the tires beating the road and other cars blaring past, to the wind rustling the leaves as we walk from class to class, from the muted TV during the commercial break with its electrical hum right outside our hearing range, to the lights off at midnight as we listen to our own breathing and our even-louder incessant thinking. There is quietness in the world. There is not so much silence in the world.
Silence is a wholly different monster. It’s something that uncovers truth, reveals lies (which may seem synonymous but are not); it opens hidden doors and shows forgotten pathways, reminds the mind of distant dreams and leads thoughts into new realms never before conceived. Silence, for all it brings, is terrifying.
The other night I needed to print a few things, so I walked over to the library on campus and stepped inside. It was empty. Completely empty. No other students. No librarians. No security guards or campus police. So it was silent. It was like driving earplugs so deeply into my brain I went deaf. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I began to sweat slightly. I moved cautiously, certain someone was there… but I was alone. I clung to the sound of my own breath, for the silence was deathly. I found comfort in the roar of the printer as it spit out page after page, gurgling like a dragon spewing fire. Then it stopped, and all was silent again. Not even a mouse.
I remarked later to my sister it seemed like a horror movie. And it’s true, but with caution: It’s the music that makes any movie seem scary. It builds to a crescendo, and when it’s done well, you never notice the sounds of the story. It just flows, seems whole, seems true. So if you turn it off, it loses power over your senses and nothing can touch you anymore. The opposite is sometimes true, however, that when the sounds end, your mind wants to fill it in. Nature abhors a vacuum–so for centuries we wrongly believed–but all that belief has left its scar in our minds, and our minds now abhor the vacuum of silence. We seek to fill it–and fill it we do, with all our insecurities and fears.
Then it becomes our monster. Then it’s all we could ever wish to never have.
Silence is best shared when not alone. I’ve said it to myself many times, even wrote it in a poem once. The connotations are seemingly verbose (why say not alone than with others? and does omitting “shared” imply the presence of others on its own?), but there’s a deeper meaning there, one that makes it seem clear. Silence is best shared. Yes, it’s better shared–that is, when not taken on by itself, or when not enjoyed by your lonesome self. When not alone. What implies loneliness? Is it personal–thus by feeling lonely, even others cannot dispel the alone-feeling–or is it practical–to be in the presences of others is all that’s required? I find it more a balance of the two, for sometimes I like to share the silence with a story, and thereby I am not alone. I’m not left to think of myself, not left to let the silence take me with it. Instead I can enjoy it through a window of another’s thoughts, and that suits me well.
To share silence with someone of significance, however, that would be a perfect romance. (So all my future lovers take note, and perhaps someday we may share that silence with each other.)
My favorite thing to do in silence is to read. I love reading. It was reading that brought me where I am, after all. It’s a long story, but easily abridged: I struggled to learn to read, and for quite a time I couldn’t, and then my local library had a challenge to read a certain number of pages during the summer. I did so, and when that happened…when I discovered what reading could give me…I was hooked. Since then, I’ve read a lot. Since then, however, I’ve had much of my time taken to other things. I miss having the time to read for pleasure. I miss it dearly.
I had some time this morning, after I awoke, to read in something resembling silence. I was lying in bed, still safely tucked beneath my covers, flipping from page to page through Pride and Prejudice. One of my good friends in Israel, when we spent the night at the Kinneret, was reading Pride and Prejudice, and every time I open the book I think of her and how she said she loved it and I smile. The book’s practically dreadful (but it really isn’t, mind you, it’s just so dry compared to my normal selection), but still…the detailing is tremendous, and I love Elizabeth’s wit and am so amused by Mr. Darcy. I do love reading it, but I ask, is this love for the story, or love for the act of reading?
Regardless, there I was, bathed in a sound sort of like silence, just reading. No rush, no worries, just me and my story and my silence enshrouding us. It was surely the highlight of my day, and for that, I am thankful.