Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence……
Good ole Art & Paul. Man, they understood. The sounds of silence. Have you ever listened to them? I mean, really listened?
Sometimes, if I am lucky enough to be surrounded by strangers, I can watch unobserved, a recorder of the human travail through which we all pass. I sit, watch, and in my own silence, I hear the sounds of everything around me.
This past weekend, I took a brief sojourn to the balmy beaches of Miami. I went alone, unaccompanied by husband, children, or any single person, place, thing, or event requiring my attention. I slept when/where/how I wanted, I stayed indoors, I stayed outdoors. I existed in a small oasis of solitude and silence. Nirvana.
On my way to and from this oasis, I also had the chance to do one of my favorite pass-times: people watch. The airport is quite simply the best place to people watch. Every single emotion of the human scale rushes through the halls of any given airport on any given day. Happiness, terror, loneliness, joy, anticipation, dread, fear, emptiness, nothing. It’s all there, in one form or another, to some extent or another. And out of this melange of humanity, every once in a while, something stands out and imprints itself upon my mind’s eye, a vision, so to speak, that “left its seeds” to be explored later, perhaps, while I sleep.
A large man with pale hands and black hair running up and down each finger. A woman with a pinched face, rushing back and forth down the aisles to find the first open bathroom. A young couple flying into the frigid 10 degrees of Chicago wearing flip flops. The elderly man struggling to get into a wheelchair. The college boy flying in first class and toting his laundry in a mesh bag as his carryon luggage. The sleeping babies in a double stroller, being pushed by their skinny-as-sin mother. The blonde wearing expensive perfume and the Rock of Gibraltar on her engagement finger, discussing real estate deals. And of course, the woman in the Indianapolis Colts t-shirt, clutching a book and avidly watching everyone and everything walk past her silent position.
I have been silent for too long. But after this weekend, words swirled through my mind, aching, begging to be released and set down into the immortal space that is my writing. Now, I believe, I will sit and listen for more sounds….
In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
In the wells of silence
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls”
And whispered in the sounds of silence
(Simon & Garfunkel)