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Sounds of silence

All of the sidebar quotations on my blog have personal significance, but I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about the one from Eric Clapton: "My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." I wonder if that's even possible. Perhaps people who know how to meditate can reach such a silent state, or at least reach a state where the only sound in their heads is the one they concentrate on to drive out all the noise. I've come close during some yoga classes, when the only sound in my head has been instructions from the woman leading the class, but I'd like to be able to generate this state without someone leading the way, without being in a class, without being in a certain place at a certain time under certain circumstances. I would like to be free to just close my eyes and concentrate on the colors related to the chakras and not be aware of the never-silent voice of the internal narrator who describes what I'm thinking and doing, always a Catholic voice, one that insistently reminds me about The Fall, the inevitability of sin and the many, many ways I fall short in the sight of God.


As I said, I'm not sure a silent state of mind is attainable, so I'm willing to settle for something else: clarity. I would like to be able to see words and actions for what they are. Instead, in my world, actions look like the head of a comet: Something wrapped in the burning gases of life, gases that obscure a clear view of what's beneath, gases that flame brightly the closer they are to the moment we call "now." It is only after the comet's nucleus has receded into the moment called "then" that the gases have burned away so the nucleus of the action is discernible, but by then, the action is too far removed from the "now" for the clear view of the nucleus to be of any use. I want to see the kernel of things in the present. I want vision that slices through confusion. I want clarity in the "now."

Should silence or clear vision never come, I want certainty. I would like to be able to believe I have come to this place in life because it is the place I was supposed to come to, not the place where I wound up because much of my life has been spent taking the path of least resistance, like melting glacial water trickling down from the heights on its inevitable way to the ocean. I would like to believe the actions I have decided to take, or not take, were part of a plan that has worked the way it should. I would like to believe life is not an accident. I realize life is a journey in a car I am not driving; this much is certain. But this much is all that is certain. I want a further sense of certainty that when I got into the car, I chose the vehicle with the right driver. And I would like certainty that I have been forgiven for the things I should not have done, human frailties beyond my comprehension at the time, yet so clear in retrospect. Is constant repentance enough to merit forgiveness? And I would like certainty that, if I have been a pebble dropped into the ocean, there have at least been ripples.

I am 55, and for some reason, this is the year these questions have become the central questions in my life. I have a great deal to be thankful for, yet those gifts appear to me as if in a mist. I am grateful for them, yet I always wonder if I deserve them, if I have held up my end of the bargain, if I see them for what they really are.

Are silence and clarity and certainty possible? Or is this asking too much?

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
vivitalia
Jun. 12th, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC)
This is the quote I shamelessly stole from your sidebar and have been using as my AIM away message when situationally appropriate. In response to your last question, I think silence and clarity and certainty are possible, but only in retrospect. Too often, people spend so much time deliberating over the right thing to do, the right path to take, the right choice to make, that they end up doing, taking or choosing nothing at all. Imagine how much worse it would be if we had all the choices, their consequences, and the clearest choice laid out in front of us. In black and white. I'm not sure I'd always choose correctly even in that situation. So I think sometimes, a certain degree of trust is necessary, not only in the "driver" but in yourself. You're still here, so you must have done something right. Wanting certainty is akin to wanting to take over the wheel, the way I see it. The passenger rarely knows the destination, and even if he does, he certainly doesn't internalize every step of the way to get there. It's a frustrating facet of the human condition, but I think the point of realizing someone else has greater control of your life than you do is to relinquish some of that clarity and certainty. Either way, very insightful piece. Thanks for getting me thinking.
patrick_vecchio
Jun. 12th, 2009 07:26 pm (UTC)
And equally insightful comments on your part. Thanks, Lizz.
nodressrehersal
Jun. 14th, 2009 03:27 am (UTC)
I love the way you laid your thoughts down here like a fanned deck of cards on the table.

I waffle between contentment: all I can do is the best I can do - and discontent: ohmygod, I don't have a clue - and back again. But mostly I try to trust that my well-intentioned efforts at life are good enough.

Regret is the one emotion I try not to engage or humor because I've learned that if you give regret an inch, it takes the proverbial mile. It is a pointless waste of energy, and life is simply too short.
patrick_vecchio
Jun. 14th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)
You are—and I say this in all sincerity—much wiser than I am.
nodressrehersal
Jun. 14th, 2009 12:33 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure about wiser - just more willing to cut myself slack. Yeah, that's what you need, some slackage.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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Nota bene: “Fear has governed my life, if I think about it. ... I always feel like I’m not good enough for some reason. I wish that wasn’t the case, but left to my own devices, that voice starts speaking up.” – Trent Reznor

“I hate to say this, but not many people care what you do. They care about what you do as much as you care about what they do. Think about it. Just exactly that much. You are not the center of the universe.” — Laurie Anderson

"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

"We are all here by the grace of the big bang. We are all literally the stuff of the stars." – Dwight Owsley

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

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