...Not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at...

Blue Windows & Barbed Wire

Saturday afternoon I wandered around streets just minutes from my home, streets that I've never wandered through before, kicking up crackled leaves and taking pictures. These were streets just minutes from the freeway, just minutes away from areas of constant buzzing traffic, but they were silent and still, like bedsheets crisp and fresh from the line. On a bright Saturday afternoon, this silence took on a glow of beauty.

After having a slightly awkward conversation with a woman at a coffeehouse, after surrounding myself with tons of folks chattering away like noisy squirrels while I sat staring at pages of a book, I loved the way the silence splashed all over me. It was much needed.

Only a car or two passed me as I wandered, taking pictures. I heard no one speak. I heard no noise. I heard no movement except my own feet against pavement and the occasional wind-swept leaf. It was like being a lone survivor in the aftermath of some large-scale human disaster. I felt completely and totally alone.

The silence was so beautiful it felt like something with dimensions and weight. I wanted to record it or take a picture of it or paint it. But I couldn't. And that's what added to its beauty.

I like this kind of silence--the kind of silence that hangs above you every once in a while even with hundreds upon hundreds of people around, that slips over your hands like soft silk gloves and holds them quietly.

But it also had a king of haunting hum to it as well because I had to keep reminding myself that, by myself, in the middle of nowhere, couched in all this silence with no one around to hear me or know that I was there, I was not very safe.

I find myself feeling this way often when I walk too far into silence and isolation, whether it be geographically or just into the rarely (and timidly-) explored recesses of brain and memory. The fresh suddenly becomes frightening. Being confronted only with the self and one's thoughts becomes a bit too much to bear.

I ventured on for a little while until uncomfortability settled in and then I shuffled off back towards voices and people and noise and city bustle--back towards distraction.

It was a nice afternoon of roaming, one that felt like I was walking through roads to the deep parts of the brain, through the center of the subconscious, where one rarely ventures, especially alone. And as quiet and gentle as these moments can sometimes be, there is good reason that one venture there only with care and perhaps good company.

There is a silence where hath been no sound,
There is a silence where no sound may be,—
In the cold grave, under the deep, deep sea...

--Thomas Hood ("Silence")



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