Today my plan is to pay attention to what I hear – both in the outer and inner worlds. Last night I had a hint about the inner – be more curious. I’ve noticed this (in hindsight where so many things are clear) even at home with things that had gone seemingly wrong in my home, things that I could have – guided by a sufficient does of “I wonder” – probably figured out.
It was only in raising the shade in my room this morning when I got up that I was able to place the sound I heard through the night. I had thought it might be the wind, but it was not a constant sound, rather sporadic. It was, tad da, the surf breaking in on the rocky edge of the ocean not far below my window. And to my surprise, I also saw that it was starting to snow! Right now there is a heavy cloud cover over the water so I can’t see very far into the distance.
I neglected to share earlier how it is that I have come to be at a silent retreat in Cohasset, MA. The daughter of one of my “fave ladies” in Newton has been here and generously offered about a year and a half ago to gift me with this retreat weekend. I was uncertain about accepting such a gift but did process it with others who deemed it appropriate. That said, each time the offer was reiterated I said “thank you” but not more. Recently the offer surfaced again and I accepted.
I surprised myself on several counts in my coming. One, I was coming alone, not knowing anyone. Had this been anything other than a silent retreat, the chances are that I would not be here. I am at heart, shy. I have a friend who will go anywhere to join a retreat if the topic interests her and the timing works. Not so for me… I was able to come to this because it’s a silent retreat. I did not need to get nervous at the prospect of talking with people I did not know. The other surprise was, as a single person who does not have someone(s) to be talking to regularly at home, that I even embraced the concept of a silent retreat. But the fact is that as the date approached I really did embrace it.
At home – because I do live alone – there is almost always some background noise; typically it’s the TV. It doesn’t matter whether or not I’m watching. And of course there are the critters. There are two cats, Gabby and Gracie. Gabby greets and frequently follows me like a dog might do. Gracie is more the quiet, background presence, but no less desirous of some attention. And then there’s the dog, Nelly, who greets me as though she hasn’t seem me for days, and as though I’m the most wonderful person on the face of the earth. (I am not.) Nonetheless interacting with these animals does for me, imply speaking: “good girl”; “do you know how much I love you?”; “please don’t bite the kitty”; and more. So I am embracing the silence while I’m here.
As I was sitting eating my breakfast I wondered what it would be to live in a silent world. I do have hearing loss and have hearing aids. I trust my future will not be one of complete hearing loss. As I considered this I thought that even here in this world of “unspoken” silence where the ordinary sounds of life, like coffee spewing out of the brewer into a cup, the sound of dishes being sloshed in soapy water, that for someone deprived of hearing other effects of sound might be recognized – vibrations from the floor as someone scoots their chair away from the table; a breeze as someone passes behind you. There are so many varied experiences of “living” about which we know nothing...