The Staggering Depth of Silence

comments 40
Poetry

Eternity sometimes feels like
a boundless readiness
coiled up and squashed
into every point there is,
like a swoop of clowns
hidden inside a mote of pixie dust
that’s hovering in the air just
a foot or two in front of your left eye,
all of them banging on the glass
and reciting plays
and brewing antidotes
and tuning chainsaws
and singing scales
and lighting firecrackers
and twitching with anticipation in there,
just waiting on one of us
to snap our fingers just right,
or to utter the magic word
and peel the void right open.

It’s so close you can taste it.

I looked over at Hafiz,
who was staring placidly out over the city,
his arms folded on the railing,
beholding a sea of eerily motionless structures.

How could he stand it!?
Don’t you some days
just want to see the world drop its ruse
and come out with it…?!
What’s all this pitter-pattering around???

I looked at a building
shaped like the business end
of a ten story Pontiac Chieftain
rising up from the ground
and I started getting that feeling again.
It was something about the
realization that even though it looked
like a frozen extrusion of history,
it was obviously ringing inside
of every column, wall and elevator shaft
with the staccato clanging
of a thousand steel frying pans
being thrown one at a time
into a deep gully
of the most cheerily-shaped rocks.
I could tell there was a whole ballroom
of ecstatic auctioneers in there
wound up to a fever pitch,
wantonly extracting secrets from the air itself.

I was starting to itch all over.

So what’s the magic word, Hafiz?

Hafiz?

 Shhhh….! he hissed.
Can’t you hear it?

Hear what.

Silence, he said.
Silence everywhere…
the sound
of everything happening
at once.

I rolled my eyes.
Sometimes I think
we’re saying the same thing–
just in different ways, I pointed out.

Well, of course we are, he replied.
He broke out into one of his patented
dawning smiles of realization.
Did I think anything else was possible?
The magic word is magic for a reason.
How else could one word
live inside of every word?

How else could one life
live inside of every life?

I nodded,
and continued my reconnaissance
of the unwavering architecture.
I kept thinking God
was going to honk the horn
of that Pontiac Chieftain
and send a city full of falcons
soaring into the sky.
The silence, I whispered to Hafiz,
to say it another way…
is staggering
and delicious.

40 Comments

  1. A beautiful cascade upwards into the ether, Michael. This story starts with the things we do to occupy ourselves while anticipating a positive outcome and ends with how our anticipation trials off into infinity but never really disappears. I really enjoyed this.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank very much, Sabiscuit. I was drawn into and intrigued by your description. I liked seeing this piece in those terms– of how we begin with the finite in mind, and then sort of blur off the edge of the page into the infinite. The cosmos must deploy full bleed printing processes in its baseball card collection of beings… Makes you wonder where all the trimmed edges end up. Recycled probably. Back inside of stars. Every once in a while there’s a being composed of millions of edges, who is effortlessly a friend to everyone.

      Thanks for your visit!
      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am lost in the one life living inside of every life and the simple yet profound truth of it. I enjoy the silences, like the minutes…filling in the empty gaps like sand into cracks, you add a little water and let it dry into something so strong, where as a minute before had been something so small. Our thoughts do this, we fill in the silence with words, perhaps out of feeling uncomfortable with the space, feeling the need to keep shoveling more into it. I love that even with the cacophony of noise,,we can tune it out and see the small space between beats, as if it is a special song just for us, that no one but us can hear for everyone else is rushing to the dance and we stand idly by content by the paneled wall as we tap our foot and Bob our head to the silent beat echoing throughout eternity.
    Peace and love,
    K

    Liked by 6 people

    • There is something like a quantum of thought operating in us I sometimes think, Kim. It’s like the Planckian quantity of being (in physics the Planck length is the smallest possible length I think). I think I know what you’re describing. Sometimes at concerts, when the place is pulsing with sound, you can slip into this silence. Just fall through the crack and into yourself. We hear a massive silence that holds all of it. And we realize we are a system of openings, a collage of entrance points into that field. Those moments are when I feel the fullest I think. When I realize I’m glimpsing the song inside of the song, the silence inside of the chaos, the transparency illumined in every color…

      Peace and Love returned,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • Another beautiful comment, you are on fire today my friend, was just reading up on Tibetan song bowls and although I couldn’t hear it without buying on that particular link, in my mind I could hear the vibrational hum soothing me. I love days when we slip within and hear these messages, when we feel the invisible thread pulling us towards something. Yes, concerts that move our body with the intense sound, like the eternal heartbeat that is never silenced, we fall into the cracks that have opened for us. I wish the entire world could see and feel this, it would be then be a truly amazing beyond sight place to be, in the meantime, we can visit when we know the way, and sometimes even find it by accident when searching elsewhere for the portal😊
        Peace and singing bowls,
        K

        Liked by 2 people

  3. with skillfuly studious attention
    to your multi dimensional observations
    i’m a fly savoring what could be
    if i could only get through
    this window glass
    & experience longing
    & contentment of pasts
    & futures so fragrantly.
    for now i’m content
    sitting & smelling this
    flower 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hi David,

      It seems that all the forms of true contentment blend together, doesn’t it? The simplicity of the flower, and the moments of glimpsing the whole cosmos blossoming– they are intertwined into an identity. There is some holy equivalence there. Good to be here, beholding such glories with you, my friend!

      Much Love
      Michael

      Like

    • Thank you, Julia. Best wishes to you also. Looks like the winter thaw you’ve experienced will be reaching us soon also. 🙂

      Peace
      Michael

      Like

  4. It’s often hard to get past the individual stories and perspectives to find our way home to peace and silence. But I suppose we’re meant to live in the dessert exploring the vastness of life and experiences. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Brad,

      It can be challenging indeed to look into and through our individual stories to discover the underlying bedrock of peace and silence. But without learning to touch bottom, I always felt I was floundering somehow. You know instinctively you can only swim in the open sea for so long before you tire. The work to find bottom is in some ways the most rewarding.

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Silence, the sound of everything happening at once . I like that line. It sounds like a paradox but hints at the timeless place.
    Peace,
    Karin

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, Karin, it is indeed a paradox. Not unlike the experience of finding oneself completely quiet amidst a crowd, at a concert, during a critical exam or a sporting match… Our actions and our silences spring from one another…

      Much Love,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  6. footloosedon says

    Reading this wonderful piece I was reminded of the 1950’s TV show “You Bet Your Life.” in which Groucho Marx would interview people and if they happened to say a predetermined “magic word” they would win $100. So I imagine Groucho driving around in a ’55 Pontiac Chieftain honking the horn, with Hafiz sitting beside him distributing $100 bills to the waving masses. Thanks as always for your own magical imagination Michael.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Ha! What a glorious scene, Don. I haven’t seen that one before, but it captures this perfectly! Your magical imagination adds to my own here. I am picturing those bills as winning lottery tickets, redeemable at the convenience store located just inside your own heart, two blocks down on the right. I think Groucho and Hafiz is quite the combination. Lots of joy pouring into those crowds…

      Blessings
      Michael

      Like

  7. Like Karin, I picked up on your idea of silence being the sound of everything happening
    at once Michael – or something like that. And also like Karin, recognise the paradox of such statements, which are anathema to reason of course. I remember when I first ‘heard’ silence; it was amidst the sound of many chirping birds, the quarter-chimes of a nearby church, and the half-muted cacophony of some distant traffic. It was the last thing I was expecting to experience, and yet there it was in all its stark obviousness. My mind said something silly like ‘oh, that’s it; that’s the sound of silence’, and it knew then that it wasn’t some crazy metaphysical abstraction concocted to baffle the credulous. I can’t say I was ever ‘staggered’ by such experiences, but then I’m one of those shoulder-shruggers who tends not to question these moments of strangeness too much – an inheritance of a misspent youth perhaps? 😉

    Liked by 5 people

    • A shoulder-shrugger, indeed! Hariod looks up to count stars, runs out of numbers, and shrugs shoulders. Is that infinity, or just ignorance? How could we know?

      I wonder if they are moments of strangeness, or perhaps deeply natural? Maybe that’s another paradox… Staggered is of course over the top, though to one desperate for water, the sight of a stream can release an emotional flood or two. There is indeed an experience we can’t really describe, that is real, that isn’t an attempt to baffle the credulous. Good to know that the shoulder-shrugger and the imbalanced mystic can agree on that one. 🙂

      It is intriguing to me that such experiences arise, often perhaps, as insights glimpsed through the scrum of sound and fury which we inhabit. It seems we have to be stretched beyond our concepts– given too many balls to juggle at once, so that we slip into an awareness not riddled with trying, concepting, and thinking…

      No youth could be misspent, if it leads to such as you offer us.

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Michael, and your words about “the scrum of sound and fury” remind me of something deeply ignorant I once said to a meditator some 25 years or more ago. She was saying how she focused her mindfulness on mundane things like opening a kitchen cupboard, hoping to glimpse the beyond in the process. I was embarrassingly dismissive of the idea, imagining that it demanded stillness, concentration, and so on. How very wrong I was. H ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        • But then you found out, it just takes a certain panache…. right?

          Hariod…???

          I think what I found out is that it takes what it takes. How’s that?

          Peace
          Michael

          Liked by 1 person

          • Opening a cupboard, watching a bee buzz busily across the front of our face, lifting a carrot to the mouth, gazing at a tree – but never when trying to get my self anywhere. What does panache mean? Apparently it is from the late Latin pinnaculum, meaning “small wing”, so perhaps we simply allow that small wing we never knew we had to lift the mind out to the cupboard, the bee, the carrot, the tree?

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yes, that’s my experience, too, Hariod.

              I always thought panache referred to possessing a certain flair. Like a flamboyancy, dexterity, or skillful flourish… So I was mostly kidding… like, playfully suggesting it takes a certain gusto to spill into this thing, but really we agree on a deft absence of trying, which of course eliminates panache entirely! 🙂

              Peace
              Michael

              Liked by 1 person

            • From talking to others, it always seems to come as something of a surprise (‘revelation’ sounds too biblical for me) – not startling, but just as if we had slipped through the crack of time . . .

              Yes, admittedly I had to work hard to come ’round to the ‘panache’ theory you jokingly postulated my friend, yet it seems the little Latin wing provided a link. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  8. I loved the images of tuning the chainsaws and auctioneers extracting secrets from air. What a nice way to envelope so many ringing symbols into silence. Also, city full of falcons soaring into the sky. I love that image, especially since falcons had such a nice come back into the urban areas.
    I often get so frustrated in the city. Or any place I end up where I think I do not want to be. Then I need to remind myself that this is it, this is where I can find silence. Easy to find silence in the snowy woods, when conditions are just right. Easy to send love and kindness to someone we already love. Some days I still need Hafiz, or Billy Collins, or Mary Oliver or Kabir, to show me that love and silence and magic is everywhere.
    I am so grateful for this reminder, Michael. Have a most wonderful silent week.
    Kristina

    Liked by 4 people

    • I need them, too, Kristina. I consider it a blessing that my work has required me to inhabit the cities from time to time, and the tunnels beneath them, and their mechanical organs of energy and process. Because it has forced me to learn to find this feeling anywhere. For a while if I didn’t read some bit of Rumi, or A Course in Miracles, or Hafiz, or whatever it was… this connection would wane. But I think we learn ultimately it resides within us, and that we encounter it wherever we go. It’s a beautiful discovery.

      Have a delightful week as well,
      exploring the silences and the symphonies,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Because of you Michael , and your gorgeous , provoking poetry …the ringing of silence has touched me this morning of winter storm . Life is so ” magically ” beautiful ! …I love your words , they flow like warm lava into my soul …love , megxxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wonderful, Meg! Life is magically beautiful, indeed, and I’m glad a few words here have propelled you in the molten heart of it all! But I think you live there anyway, so it was not so much of a leap… 🙂

      Much Love
      Michael

      Like

  10. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says

    “Silence everywhere…the sound of everything happening at once.” I love this. Being able to hear silence in the midst of chaos. So much easier in Nature for me. Finding silence in the spaces of noise is like a portal to a different consciousness.

    “The magic word is magic for a reason. How else could one word live inside of every word?” This is a wonderful line too. That Hafiz! How fun is magic!?

    “How else could one life live inside of every life?” This is my favorite line of all.

    Once again, your words resonate right in the heart.

    Love and Light
    Mary

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Mary. Those were the lines that made this piece come together for me, so I’m glad you found them! I like what you wrote about finding silence through noise being a portal to a different consciousness. I had to think about that for a minute, and I felt that when we’re in Nature, it is obvious all around us. And when we’re in chaos, it’s like we shift a gear or something to find the silence. One is like an affirmation, the other a negation. So I think I sense or agree with what you are saying… I think it’s easiest when we slip into that space of just witnessing, and realizing we don’t really know what is happening to begin with, or what it exactly means!

      Love and Light Returned,
      Michael

      Like

  11. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says

    and of course, in the funny bone….funny bone? Maybe more like solar plexus. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says

    You know Michael, it’s funny. When I wrote this comment I knew consciousness was the wrong word, but I was being called away for something, and just wanted to send it. If I had thought longer, I think I would have used Awareness.

    Yes, it’s like what you said, “when we’re in Nature, it is obvious all around us. And when we’re in chaos, it’s like we shift a gear or something to find the silence.” Then you said, “One is like an affirmation, the other a negation.” I don’t know that I’d use the word negation, as I think it all just sort of IS. And, yes, I definitely agree that it is easier to slip into the witness, and for me, that is assisted with my breath. I love what you said, ” realizing we don’t really know what is happening to begin with, or what it exactly means!”

    Love, the depth of silence and a little silliness to you and Hafiz,
    Mary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mary,

      Thanks for providing your input here and continuing this dialogue, because I like to think these things through! And I’m not sure I picked the right word with negation. That it all just sort of IS, is clearly so. I’m trying to put my finger on what that certain something is that you can experience, even in an engine room operating at 110 decibels, even in an assembly line job, even in a cubicle. It’s not a negation, but it is a type of mode shift. It’s like with Nature the beauty reminds us of what is beyond nature, and with the engine room experience, the cacophony also invites me to see beyond it. And ironically, they both involve a merging into or absorbing of the surroundings in a way. If I’m making any sense… That’s the ISness of it I guess. Both experiences are capable of inviting a larger view, a view into and beyond, a wholeness.

      Awareness is the perfect word I think. An awareness that holds all of it…

      Much Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says

        Yes, beautifully said, Michael. “An awareness that holds all of it…”
        Granted, it is easier in Nature usually for me. I have to work harder to be present in situations that I’m not crazy about, but eventually I get there…exactly as you say, “by merging into or absorbing the surroundings”, and then accepting them as is and being in Love.
        I love what you said,”Both experiences are capable of inviting a larger view, a view into and beyond, a wholeness.”

        Much love to you too.
        Mary

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Michael, now that was just absolutely glorious to read.
    As I read on, I felt like I was climbing the stairs to get a better view of all that is magical.
    And then there I was at the vista and the view is, yes, glorious.
    Peace, Harlon

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Harlon! Glad to share this view with you my friend. Hope all is well and you are enjoying that lost art!

      Peace
      Michael

      Like

  14. Sorry to break the silence by arriving here a bit late, It was ‘the staccato clanging of a thousand steel frying pans being thrown one at a time into a deep gully’ that really got my attention. Thank you for the wake-up call…

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, it was quite a scene. Not exactly the soothing image for one who is experiencing headaches. You show courage stopping by for this one, Tiramit! Hope you are awakened, peaceful and content.

      Blessings
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

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