The gentling sounds of New Year’s Eve morning swirl inside the cabin. Woodstove whispers and creaks. An overwintering fly snaps out of torpor and buzzes in rare winter warmth. Beyond thin windows a Steller’s Jay squawks from conifers straining upward through fog.
In this place, quiet is a liquid. I can drink it, bathe in it. Quiet is a gas that can be drawn into the warm moist spaces of my lungs. I wonder--if I were a Torrent Salamander with skin and gills constantly bathed and breathing in a pool of quiet, would quiet even have a name? Not likely. Quiet is the space between noise, like the pause between heartbeats, blackness shining through stars, exuberant rotting of winter leaves.
Quiet is more than silence, more than not-sound. Quiet is stillness, an absence of busy-ness. In the manufactured world, quiet is rare in any form. Holiday noise is especially incessant: cars, trains, planes, phones, people talking yelling singing snoring, parties, shopping, resolutions, televisions blooming with Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Participation Ribbon Bowl.
Wise Teachers have for ages told us that quiet is an internal state, portable into all external circumstances. I’m not so highly evolved. Noise becomes an addiction. This rises to conscious recognition when the skin of my soul becomes so stretched and thin that I am in danger of disappearing with a BANG or a slow withering leak.
From somewhere beyond knowing I become thirsty for a long cool drink of quiet. Physical intervention becomes necessary. I run for it. And in this cabin, where the boundaries between outside and inside, conscious and unconscious, are very thin, I become quiet. I’m grateful for quiet fly buzz and jay squawk, quiet pause before another life-giving inhalation, a pink New Year's Eve sunset.
2018 is now. May you be visited often by quiet spaces of all kinds.