10 September 2011

In The Morning, I Carry Water; In The Evening, I Chop Wood

There is a peculiar silence in the mornings now that I don't turn on the radio when I'm making breakfast.  It is not a hermetic silence.  There are noises, the myriad ticks and whispers of an old house coming to life, with the birds awakening outside the windows.  In the corner of the cloister called the kitchen, the refrigerator hums its offices while I make tea.

The non-silent silence anchors me in the day.  Music is a love of mine, but lately it has begun to wear on my ears.  This is a sure sign I have been listening to it too much and I am in need of a break.  Hence the true silence of the radio I usually stream through my computer.

What else has this silence given me?  Mental breathing space.  A chance to ease slower into the day.  I believe I needed it long ago but stubbornness and a fear of the noise in my head kept me from the silence.  The change came abruptly, yet I cannot recall when I stopped turning on the radio.  It must have been sometime in the spring.  Spring, yes, that was it.  A season of change, with the growth of things coming on strong.

I feared the silence, beginning long ago, and was unaware that was the case.  Separation and divorce brought me face to face with it, sharply focused.  I even remember the event that caused me to recoil in a spasm of anxiety over the whole matter.  It was dinner, in the apartment I moved into when I moved out of the house two years ago.  It was the sound of my chewing that made me stop eating and place my hands on my stomach to calm the churning that threatened a reversal in the flow of things.

I had no desire to get ill on my own cooking, alone at the table.  But I could barely finish what I had made.

Two weeks ago, it seemed a reverse revelation when I sat down to my cereal, toast and egg that sunny summer morning.  I was in my bath robe.  A mug of fresh tea by my right hand, plate in the middle and book to the left.  I even managed to not check my email first thing, and was looking through the blinds to enjoy the soft gold of the morning sky.

My chewing and slurping seemed as loud as ever within the confines of my skull.  I didn't run from it.  Rather, I found myself meditating on it.  It seemed familiar, an old hand, boon companion at the breakfast board...and I felt no anxiety, no sense of loneliness to have enough silence to hear my corporeal self going about the business of living.  It felt good to be there, in the morning, having breakfast.  Just me, the book and the silence.

In the mornings, now I carry water.  In the evenings, I chop wood.  Those are the good days, and I am living more of them here in the monastery of my Self.


  1. this settles in my chest in a way i don't know how to explain

  2. The first thing I hear in the morning, sometimes even before I am fully awake, is the sound of the wind. I keep my windows wide open unless it is raining. The wind in the trees, the occasional car driving by, the dubdubdub of the engine of the occasional narrowboat that floats by, the creak of the hanging signpost and birdsong. Plenty of birdsong. Those are the sounds that filter into me before I am even there.

    Silence... not so scary huh?

  3. Lovely...thank God for the silence. I'm a silence person; I loathe the intrusion of sounds, especially in my morning....glad you moved into the same monastery, Brother Kevin :)

  4. I love this for so many reasons.

  5. Beautiful post...I need to think more like that...

  6. yep.... nothing to add. awesome job
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  7. I like the silence too, when music stops sounding melodic and turns to noise. I'm listening to the sound of the clock ticking and the sound my my keys clicking now, having turned my music off an hour ago. It's a relief.

  8. I love the silence. In the back yard, while I'm on the porch, I play quietly, worship music. Helps me settle…and then, sometimes, it's too much.

    No TV. Makes me crazy.

  9. I can just sit in solitude and enjoy my own company. Amazing really because that is something I could not do years ago.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...