The photograph above was taken on a melting mellow afternoon by the sea. I walked between some buildings and came upon this view. I saw the young lady seated all by herself, reading quietly. I had not the heart to disturb her and so I tiptoed back and stood still as I took the photograph. The sea was quiet in this secluded sound. There was a vast silence. Not even the birds broke the quiet. I let the peace wash over me. There are not many moments in our lives when we encounter that magic calm, and when it happens, it happens so suddenly, without warning, as it happened to me. Yet, it is so easy to make it happen, if we only set our minds to own that silence and peace. In our urban buzz, amidst the chatter of our gadgets, we forget that we actually have the power to switch that frenetic mind clutter out of our lives if only we choose to.
It has been my morning routine to switch on the radio in the kitchen while I make my coffee and breakfast; then I sit by the TV and watch the 24 hour news channels to “catch up” on the news. Never mind it is a repeat and a rehash of the same news I heard the day before and the day before that. I just feel virtuous that I had not missed any startling breaking news such as people being killed in the many innovative ways they are being killed these days. This makes me no better than those ghouls who slow down traffic in order to watch some horrific car accident. With one eye on the TV and my mouth absentmindedly trying to chew my porridge, I have my laptop open, where else, on my lap and I check my email and the morning papers in case the TV has missed on any juicy details of death, destruction and torture. It does not stop there. While my right thumb is flicking channels and my right middle finger is managing my laptop, my left hand, when it is not feeding my mouth, is engaged in making phone calls to my morning cronies. It is just a matter of making the world aware I am alive and kicking and a way of validating myself every morning.
Then two mornings ago it happened, that light bulb moment. Only, the light bulb came on slowly over my head like one of those long lasting light bulbs that are particularly lazy. I was still a little sleepy. I came in from the kitchen with my coffee and sat down. I did not turn on the TV or the laptop or the radio or the phone or the music blaster. I just sat down and tasted my coffee. It tasted particularly good that day. I looked out of the window and felt deliciously lazy and indolent. I liked that feeling. The box in the corner was not frantically trying to force new horrors on to my face this morning. The other sound machines were not distracting me with their dizzying buzz cackle and grind. I actually enjoyed the silence as if I had just discovered something new. I am lucky my house carries in very little sound from the outside. I sat there a long time and enjoyed my morning coffee as I had never done in a long time.
And it took me back to my time in my old country. The time when I was a little boy of ten, when I would get up in the morning and wonder into the kitchen. My mother would give me my coffee and I would sit on the kitchen steps and sip it. I had the view of the yard with its pure white river sand, and over the fence those majestic Palmyrrah palms, their great big leaves rustling against each other as those hundred foot trees waved in the wind. The sound was like the murmur of waves and I, my stick thin legs tucked under me, would go into a dream. That morning coffee spot with its few minutes of peace seemed so eternal and never ending, before the frenetic tasks of the day began, the hurry to finish off homework before collecting my school books and walking the two miles to school.
That was pure nostalgia. But I said to myself ‘why not recreate it, even for a few days’? So here I am, feeling virtuous that I have rediscovered something so very obvious. I am trying to get some of the physical clutter out of my life. It is time I also cleaned up the mental clutter I accumulate each morning. I shall try bravely to keep away from the news. I do not watch the soaps except for the odd film. So I should be on sound grounds here. I shall keep you informed of my progress. But folks, I strongly urge you to discover that silence and hold on to it.
Meditation does not come in any more delicious forms!