Sounds of Silence

Silence.  Finally the ever busy buzz of activity in the house has ceased and I am alone.  I walk through the rooms, noting the abandoned piles here and there – there can be no doubt this house is very clearly lived in.  I revel in the quietude of the moment.  Not just the lack of chatter but the constant buzz of energy has ceased.  I am very clearly alone.

After dinner I open the door and let the dogs in.  They are restless for a few moments, then each finds the perfect space of floor to sink into.  We are peaceful and settle into the tranquillity of evening.  I savour the silence for a few moments.  Make myself some tea and breathe in the solitude.

But too soon I start to long for a connection.  It is difficult for me to be alone.  Although I crave it when the children are home, pulling me in a million different directions at once, I don’t do well in isolation.  I know that tomorrow will be productive and I will be grateful for the time to devote to writing, finishing the project at long last.  But tonight I’m too tired to work.  I consider watching a movie.  I try reading for a while but the attention of a good book keeps slipping from me.

Now it is too quiet.  Too early to sleep.  And I inwardly shake my head at myself.  All year I’ve been longing for some quiet space to myself.  Now I have it, I’m not sure what to do with it.

I turn to my computer and surf the ‘net until I find some old articles written by some of my friends.  These are articles that have little to do with my own academic work – this is not research in the traditional sense.  But it is re/search of those individuals I come into contact with on a daily basis.  Reading their work makes me see them in a new light.  So often we only see a single dimension of those around us – the professor or the administrator.  The writer, the poet, the actor, the musician.  The banker.  We have this need to label.  But I delight in the surprise.  Each of us is such a myriad of little pieces, some exposed, some hidden, some come to light only in certain circumstances.  I’m forever reminded not to pre-judge.  Stereotypes are defensive comfort mechanisms.  It is easier to label.  Much harder to acknowledge the Other.  Really see it, without suppositions or judgments.  Just watch and enjoy.

I find one old article written by a colleague.  It grabs my attention because it is at once a critique of one of my favourite books and a self-deprecating commentary on teaching in the university.  I delight in the crisp words with a touch of irony bubbling just beneath the surface.  I adore a well woven story but admire even more an academic article that captures my attention, entertains and educates.  I consider the talent that I’ve been exposed to through my academic career.  If I wasn’t naturally curious I would never read half of the work that my colleagues are undertaking.  It makes me want to stretch and reach for more myself.  Once again I feel very thankful for the textures that continue to sweep across my path.

The quieting of busy-ness in this house, gives me space to appreciate these gifts.  This is a good way to begin the week.

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