Can we listen to silence?

Bird Droppings February 23, 2011
Can we listen to silence?

Sitting in my yard as the moon is slowly dwindling almost down to a half moon as spring approaches. I was listening to the silence and to what was about me. I tried to hear the minutest of sounds, the echoes of dogs and coyotes off in the distance there was little wind to move the pine boughs and the air was still. The moon though partial gone was brilliant shining effortlessly over my shoulder. Wisps of clouds floated by creating a lacework of sorts over my head never enough cloud cover to hide the moon simply to create patterns as I tried to get a photo.
Periodically I would hear the sounds of my dog clicking along the porch as she would come over to me from the house she was ready to go in. The temperature is still a bit cool for crickets and tree frogs this past night and morning. While days are warm and even sitting here in the coolness of morning it is bearable not blanket weather anymore. A few more degrees of warmth till the night time creatures begin their symphonies. I slept well last night rising early this morning so I could sit for a few minutes more in the quiet of morning I was trying to think of what to write. There is so much turmoil in the world right now literally all over the world. So I will write about the advantages of silence and solitude.

“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” Henry David Thoreau

When I talk of getting up at three in the morning most people scoff at the idea and tell me you are crazy. But sitting listening to silence is a powerful way to start the day clearing your thoughts focusing on silence to a point you hear your heart beat or the clicking of your puppies toe nails on the concrete.

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” Henry David Thoreau

Occasionally a thought will linger with me as I try and sort through the hows and whys and wondering if it is or isn’t maybe right maybe wrong. A student came in my room yesterday and said to call about a Pow-Wow coming up her mother is part Cherokee and is the local organizer for Native American gatherings in the area. I shared a red tailed hawk feather with her to take to her mother.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau

Often I will spend my class period just sitting talking in friendly conversation. Often many the time people will come in and sit join in the conversation and ask what you are teaching. I often avoid saying anything other than whatever is needed right now. Most high school students look at me quizzically and pass it off as Mr. Bird is weird. But working with students who many times never have a civil conversation with anyone sitting and talking about anything is a lesson in humanity joining in with others and being accepting is far more a lesson than trying to read about friendship in a text or on the internet.

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” Henry David Thoreau

Several days ago I asked a student why they came to my room and was told because you will listen. I got thinking I practice every morning before most of these students even wake up by listening to silence. Then as I sit here now maybe in the silence I can sort out the day ahead and just maybe I will be patient with those that need and be able to listen when others can not.

“In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood.” Henry David Thoreau

Not understanding silence many would simply say there is nothing to understand about nothing. But is silence nothing when a heart is hurting or pain holds a voice silent, is there sound in a tear or a touch. Far too many of us are waiting on words and silence is a practiced lesson. Listening to silence takes patience and time and many of us are not willing to take either.

“Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them; for those experiences have left an indelible impression, and we are ever and anon reminded of them” Henry David Thoreau

It is learning that silence too is music and is poetry and has meaning. It is listening to the silence and grasping its significance and defining attributes, sorting through the moments and seconds when silence prevails. For me it is an early morning meditation and watching a few embers from a sage leave or two die flickering away in a moment as a wisp of smoke silently glides upward often taking a turn as it clears our hedgerow. It is time to be silent, to be alone, to listen to silence and this is a choice we each need to make when it is time and when you are prepared.

“I have never found a companion that was as companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone; let him be where he will.” Henry David Thoreau

Often on websites and blogsites you are asked who would you like to me I generally put down Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Students have asked me why and I respond I once said both men had opportunity to listen to silence. Generally the student will get a blank look and walk away another nonsensically bird dropping. So my friends peace to all and please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart.

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