Hush, be still, and feast on the silence
vol. 4 issue 7
Here’s a thought. What if instead of distracting ourselves with ways to avoid death, which is what we Americans are especially adept at doing, we just sat still for a moment?
Rather than fixate on how much toxin we can afford to inject in our face in three-, maybe four-month intervals, on how much square footage we can afford to build and then stuff with stuff, on whether to use Door Dash or just crack an egg, on how far our imaginations can wrap around the complicated nonsense that convinces us we must pay for health insurance that covers nothing at all when you get right down to it, like in the moments when we actually face death, and this one is where I got stuck this morning — on how my fellow countrymen and women (and trans and all that) are so polarized…what if instead we just you know, shut up for a few minutes?
Ach—stop it. Don’t think about it. Just shut up.
Let the vacuum exist.
I am not playing. So, for a bit this morning, I shut up, too. From where I sat propped on my bed, I quit reading the book in my hands, and just shut up my head. Shut down my thinker. And I saw something: hard mean righteousness on one side, cold mushy wokeness on the other. In the middle was nothing.
I figure that is from where the wisdom is struggling to emerge.
The nothingness is precious.
And then this occurred to me, something I am certain did not originate in my own head, but where I first heard it, I can’t recall: sometimes what starving people need more than a meal is a story.
Stories emerge from somewhere. Good, enduring, wise ones? I am certain they don’t come from extremes. They come from the void.
I think we’re starved for wisdom.
Here’s something worth fifteen minutes of your time. It’s from Hal, who is living in a body that is, as we would say in our youth-obsessed way, failing him. With his severe chronic illness, Hal, who seems to be about my middle-age, 50+ish self, is facing death in a much more prescient way than probably you and certainly I am facing it.
I “met” Hal recently in a forum hosted by Substack for self-publishers who consider their genre to be “culture”. We agreed that “culture” is the moniker that made more sense than most others, even though what we do is both hard and squishy, difficult to contain or explain.
Yesterday, Hal's post appeared in my email just as I was sitting down to have a cup of coffee and crash through the obligatory end-of-week email returns I needed to make. Thus, he provided a very good, as in quality, distraction that ended up re-orienting my entire day, infusing it with meaning. Now, I share this quality distraction with you.
Hal understands the void. It is where everything good begins.
I hope you can take the 15 minutes away from your obsessions, whatever they may be, to enter the void, prompted by Hal’s lovely musical meditation, narrated in his sweet, aw-shucks-sounding Midwestern lilt, complete with the flat a’s that only a Great Lakes region Ohioan could intone (a compliment of the highest order).