Sunday, August 08, 2010

On Silence and Solitude

by Zinta Aistars

That bustle, that hustle quieting, that noise receding, those crowded weekdays, with their alarm clocks and traffic wheeze and slick sirens and babble of office voices and that near endless whir and buzz and hiss and ring of machines and clack of technology backing away and making room...

...for a Sunday morning.

I go out on the back deck in my bare feet, coffee cup in hand, bookmarked book. Sitting, tipped back a bit, on the deck chair, my eyes keep wandering from the page. So quiet still, so still this quiet. I have it all to myself, yet shared with a thousand life forms: my old chow pup, who has found a pork chop bone to chew on like hidden treasure in the grass, my tortoise-shell cat, who is nuzzling a clump of the pup's red-blonde fur loosened from his tail, curling her paws around it and tucking it beneath her soft underbelly as if a found kitten to protect. She hates the dog, barely tolerates him. She loves his fur. The tiny chickadee in the tree, tiny but big with song, a raucous racket filling the backyard and all the way to the rooftops. Buzz fly swirling in the air, round and around in dizzy circles. Ladybug on the fencepost, a tiny gleaming red button like a drop of blood.

Read. And again my eyes wander up, and up, to the treetops overhead, giving lacey shade. The day is already warm and threatens to sweat and simmer in its afternoon, but now, now a cool breeze tosses in the trees. I watch the trees, I listen to them. Surely the world was always this fascinating, even my own backyard, yet it is only now, in recent year or two, that I have noticed it, all of it, so overwhelmingly all and much of it, such dance and sound and so much to see and know and contemplate. So much, so much, a bounty, a treasure trove, an endless miracle, all magical, all fairy tale.

The Sunday summer breeze tosses the tops of the trees as if they were full green skirts at the ball. I watch it move invisibly from tree to tree, flirting with one and then the other and then the next and then the entire row of trees, like dancing girls with green leafy lacey skirts to the sky. The wind may be invisible, but I see it play, I hear its swish and hum and purr. There, to my left, to the west, it is there now, fluffing those green skirts and thrilling the trees, their limbs bending and swaying in near silent song. There, just above me now, slipping the green lace from side to side, so that the spots of escaped sun dapple and dance, tipple and twirl. There, moved to the east of me, shimmering light on leaf, tickling the leaves of the maple and the oak and the birch and the crabapple, leaning into the border of evergreens, who resist with all their might.

Surely I have seen all this before. Surely I have. As a child, I often escaped to the woods, to the meadow across the street from home, hiding from mother's voice, hiding, and watching the treetops, climbing up into them, wanting to be one with them, or one of the birds, one of the fuzzed little animals burrowing beneath the roots. I saw the wind then. I heard it play, I ran with it, I danced with it, I tossed my ribboned braids into it and turned my face to the sky.

And then there was so much life, too much life, an avalanche of life. A torrent, a hurricane, a constant storm. I forgot to listen to the wind while I was in it. I was too busy to turn my face to the sky.

I still am. Only now I know how to be a thief of hours. I steal those early Sunday morning minutes and make them mine, in disregard of the begging chores and errant errands. All the things I must yet do and now do not do, not now. At this other half of life, I have learned, again, what I knew as a child. That to be still and silent for a while in the midst of the noise is not a mere luxury. Not a thing to pad and buffer the moments of importance. These are the important moments. These. Here. Now.

I've noticed it, I've taken note first in wonder and then acceptance and then with utmost pleasure, how happiness has rooted itself in me again. Its roots grow and sink deep when I sit silent like this, still like this, and let my eyes wander from the page and be do know nothing, be do know everything, just another little animal rooted in the earth and gazing up at the sky and listening to the wind and letting it toss a wisp of my hair into my eyes.

These moments of solitude and silence are my own gold. Are my vitamin. Are my muscle to take into the week to come and wrestle it back into shape. Are my wine, giddy thrill rushing rich through my veins. Are my hope renewed, my life reclaimed, my heart unfolding like a sail to the open wind for the voyage into the far horizon.

That breeze, that picking up wind, have you ever really watched it? Like this, sitting and face to the sky and bare feet on the warm planks of wood below and cat curled beside and dog panting softly and in rhythm to a pulse in the earth and fat white summer clouds tumbling across the blue to the other side.

This is today. Tomorrow, this day will be gone.


  1. A large celebration in such tiny moments.

  2. I really lost myself in the atmosphere of this piece. Thanks for sharing.