Sunday, October 16, 2011

Where do you experience great silence?

Jessica who used to bring such great reflection to the Philosophy Cafe here in Adelaide and is now residing in the Netherlands composed this piece about the experience of silence. It's a reminder that the lived expererence of silence and stillness may well differ from the concept of measuring sound levels and movement.

Jessica says _

I have an experience of silence (and – paradoxically – stillness) when I ride my bike. – When I ride I find my thoughts disappear, as I am caught up in navigating and maneuvering my way through a landscape, or cityscape, as it may be. Like you, I sometimes have the sensation that the wind is blowing right through me. And the rush – the movement – gives me quite literally the feeling of just passing through. I am but one feature in the scenery, and a fleeting one at that.

Whilst this is movement, I have more a sense of gliding along through it all, as it is the wheels of my bicycle that make contact with the earth; in a way I myself am stationary whilst being transported, and there is a stillness in my mind-body; only my legs are engaged in the fluid and seemingly endless motion of peddling. The physical exertion draws me into my body, and my mind is free to simply contemplate the world I am passing through at this very particular pace, detached, and, I find, inevitably content.

For me, silence and stillness hold profound power in relation to the usual cacophony and (co)mmotion that is one great demand of the modern world. Cycling is a beautifully balancing activity for the way it combines stillness and motion. – And also for the way it reveals the silent will and work of our bodies that so faithfully carry us through life.

Another form of perfect silence for me is the silence of the flower. I like to imagine what it might be like to be a flower, taut and upright in the air all hours doing nothing but exuding beauty and perfume. And lately I have found that even when I am quite literally running down the street to catch a train, or swept up in some other senselessly busy affair, on impulse I can’t help but plunge my nose toward some beautiful, unsuspecting rose in someone’s front garden. For one small but full moment, at least, all my attention is arrested by the fragile beauty of the flower, its silence as intangible as its scent.

1 comment:

  1. To Jessica:

    "If we could but understand a single flower we
    might know who we are and what the world is."

    (Jorge Luis Borges, b: 1899 Buenos Aires, Argentina; d: 1986 Geneva, Switzerland)