Awaking to aural emptiness is one of the most stunning experiences. In this past week, I have twice been in this space and it brings a restful delight that I wish to attempt to express to you. When one’s ear has nothing to focus on, when molecules are not vibrating and tickling the ear drum, one can feel at peace in an automatic meditative state. It causes me to stop and do nothing because anything I do, even the slightest movement, will disturb the resting molecules to create a sound of some sort.
The most common sound in my apartment up here on the hill is a refrigerator hum. It kicks in a couple of times per hour for about 10-12 minutes and seems incredibly loud to me for it being a new refrigerator. But I realized that it’s only loud because sometimes it’s the only sound in the apartment. Oh, and this is a studio apartment which means that I live closer to it than many home dwellers whose kitchens are in a completely separated space from other rooms in the house. Though I am an audio engineer, musician, and composer or maybe because of it, I treasure having no sound as an amazing aural treat. I can focus on breathing and then on the tiny disturbances that enter the space one by one: a car driving on the winding road below; a tweet of a morning bird awaking in the thick fog; a plane flying overhead (so rare since the pandemic began); my fingers tapping on the laptop keyboard.
I am reminded of the Persian poet and Sufi master, Rūmī, who wrote many poems about silence in his sixty-six years of living in the 13th Century. Before I search for a couple of quotes to share here, I found something of interest to our current time: Jalāl ad-Dīn Mohammad Rūmī was born in Balkh, in present-day Afghanistan. I shudder for a moment.
While researching, the refrigerator kicked into a buzzing hum and I also briefly heard the snapping and cracking of ice. I heard the wing flaps of three birds, but no chirps, songs or tweets.
On a Saturday morning before 8a, not a soul stirs up here on the peaks save for 2 cars that have driven by. In the thick of the fog, they are heard and not seen.
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