You are song, a wished-for song.
Go through the ear to the center,
where sky is, where wind,
where silent knowing.
Put seeds and cover them.
Blades will sprout
where you do your work.
Rumi, A Year with Rumi (March 27)
This morning I began reading Listening Below the Noise, a book by Anne LeClaire about "The Transformative Power of Silence." Describing her first experience of a 24-hour period of silence, she says, "My writing flowed effortlessly. As I thought about this, I wondered if the energy that was normally dissipated in speech was going instead into my work.
I had never before really thought about the physical toll that ordinary conversation extracts. I hadn't considered how fragmented attention shatters focus. Now I was experiencing complete focus as if for the first time... Is this what happens when, even in the face of resistance, we follow our heart's desires? And what is the cost if we don't?"
I find myself wondering about that question now, as, having overslept, I try to write this blog with the radio going in the kitchen and frequent interruptions from the dog, the cats, and my husband. It's very hard to concentrate, and that's at least partly my fault; I got caught up playing with this image (another shot of the ferry floor, much altered) when I should probably have been focusing instead on my writing. Normally I do the photo work in the afternoon and evening, but yesterday didn't work that way, so now I see why the routine I've set up works so well for me -- and how much I can lose when I have to drift away from it; it is as if I have lost my song.
So, thinking back to today's Rumi poem, I can see that it's all very well to put seeds and cover them. But we need to be thoughtful about where the seeds come from; they need to emerge, not from the ear, but from the center; from that silent knowing. And now, of course, what I'm hearing in my head is that old Simon and Garfunkel tune, the Sounds of Silence:
Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence
In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
"Fools", said I, "You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you"
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
In the wells of silence
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls"
And whispered in the sounds of silence
Hmmm. Is this some neon god I've made?