The NY Times recently had a story about “the quietest room in the world” where the writer said the room was so quiet “it hurt.” It's hard to imagine this. The only thing I can think of is when you're on an airplane and your ears feel like they need to pop to relieve the pressure. It can be a very uncomfortable sensation. (You can read the full article here).
Silence has always intrigued me. There can be a real density to it at times. In fact, you can actually hear the silence. Think of a snowstorm when there is no traffic on the road - comforting and calming, the snow cloaks the world in silence. And on days when I forget to put my hearing aids in, I marvel at how quiet and peaceful the day is. That's usually when I stick my fingers in my ears to check I'm wearing them. Invariably, I'm not.
On the other hand, I can think of times where silence can be eerie. A friend of mine from Brooklyn once spent the night at a retreat of sorts out on Long Island. The darkness and lack of sound totally made him anxious. He was so used to the city lights and sounds that the absence of them was too much for him. Can you relate?
I suppose my interest in silence arose from an experience I had in Bermuda when I returned for a visit. More than half my life was spent there, but the deep sea always frightened me. I don't know why, but the notion that a complete other world, larger than our own, exists beneath the surface, always gave me the jitters. Putting my head under water and hearing that deep silence was equally as unsettling to me. And I don't like swimming in water that isn't clear enough to see what's creeping up on you! Spoken like a spoiled Bermudian.
However, on one of my visits I decided to go snorkeling, something I rarely, if ever, did when I lived there. Tobacco Bay is a lovely shallow beach area that opens out to the ocean beyond the rocks. The day I was there, I wanted to venture out to the other side of the rocks, but the waves were crashing against them. Between the sound of the water hitting the rocks and the waves battering my face, I was afraid. But, but, but …. when I placed my head under water with my snorkel, I couldn’t even feel or hear those waves! It was calm and quiet — nothing like the water on the surface. What an eye-opening (or ear-opening?) experience that was for me!
We all have the ability to experience the same thing every day. It's much like meditating. Sitting in silence and going within takes us to a soothing place of refuge. It calms our nerves and helps us deal with the frenzied lives we lead. It makes us more mindful of the present moment rather than dwelling on fears of the future. Within us is a core of inner peace we can all tap into.
You don't have to meditate to find such solace. Stop and listen to the birds. Take in the beauty that surrounds you. Sit still and feel it. Sit still and be silent.
Framed Clay Monoprint
This beautiful 40in x 40in framed clay monoprint is being offered for sale by a collector who bought it in 1983, at the beginning of Mitch's clayprinting career. The quietness and softness of it would enhance any home. If you need to bring some peacefulness into your life, please contact me.
Don't be afraid to experiment
There's always something new to discover. Thanks to Betsy for thinking outside the box at the last workshop!
Using bok choy to clayprint
Don't forget to check out the clayprinting workshops being offered this summer. And for those of you who have already learned, aren't you ready to spend some time in the studio? Open studios are back!