When you think that only Mozart is beautiful, there’s no room in your life for rap.
(Byron Katie, 1000 Names for Joy)
I listen to the birds outside the window, the sound of the wind in the trees, the chimes by the door as the breeze moves them and am delighted. A large truck rumbles by, clacking, hammering its way down the pavement, an adolescent zooms through gunning his motorbike for all it’s worth, exhaust open at top volume and murderous thoughts fill my mind. One sound is “good” the other is “bad”. The Tao says: “When people see some things as good, other things become bad”. I am forgetting what is “good” about the truck and the motorbike: the fact that I can hear them, for one; it means my ears are still working and therefore can pick up the birdsong and breeze along with the trucks and motorbikes. The motorbike reminds me of the energy and enthusiasm of youth and on being re-minded I re-call, I call back my own enthusiastic adolescence that was ready to eat the world and for a moment I am that again; it is there, it is always there just waiting for me to remember how thrilling it was to ride a horse or a motorbike at top speed. The thundering truck also is good: it is simply part of the tapestry of commerce that allows me to buy the things that fill my life in a store not far away; it might be bringing the fish from the coast that I will eat tomorrow, or fruit from Spain for my breakfast, clothes woven in China for summer wear, furniture that brings me confort from Korea.
If the rumblings outside were thunder and not trucks I would be joyful and hear them gratefully, as rain is needed for the corn (that I am planning to pick and eat as soon as it’s ripe), and to keep the flowers going through the summer, and the grass green in the gardens and the hills lush and the forests free of fires. If it were a roaring wind it would excite me and I would stand by the window watching the trees be freed of their dry leaves and branches.
But perhaps what I should be appreciating most is the variety. If there were always silence I would cease to hear it and be thankful; it the birds never stopped singing or were never overshadowed by other sounds, I would cease to perceive the gentle cadence of birdsong; if the chimes by the door played incessantly I would end up throwing them out for their nuisance. So, I can be grateful that there are not five hundred and sixty three trucks rumbling through one after another and that the variety of sounds that reach my ears actually enrich my living experience.
So I listen: silence. I listen again: chimes. And again: a truck approaches. Silence. Car passing. Sound comes in waves. Salomé sighs and turns over on the chair. Silence. The Fridge hums. A motorbike roars by. Silence again. A car radio leaves a snatch of song. Truck, bird, breeze, fridge, chimes… like waves reaching the beach and then fading, usshhh-ahhhh… If I just allow the sounds to exist they come and go, it is only life happening.
I like to go out at night. My last short walk with Salomé is a special gift. Salies is usually asleep at that hour and quiet has descended cuddling the trees and houses in its darkness. At most there will be one, maybe two, passing cars that are rapidly gone. I love the quiet of night, I love listening to the soft murmurs of the sleeping town, the sporadic song of crickets or the wind in the trees. If it rains there is a special kind of hush (the soft rain) and the air smells of wetness and life. When the fog rolls in every sound seems muted and the muteness itself becomes a kind of sound.
So I am being constantly invited to listen to the symphony of life as it unfolds, as the myriad instruments are picked or stroked or strung or blown or pounded and the orchestra occupies the stage that is my simple existence, coming in through my window, borrowing my kitchen and bathroom for added effects, using the chimes I have hung or the ticking clock (yes, I still have a clock that ticks), rising and falling, waves of sound, combing the beach where I abide, surging against the cliffs of the building, breaking over the chairs and desk and lamps, withdrawing with a long sigh (usshhh, ahhhhh)… yes, of course, it is the ocean, the world’s ocean outside my window, inside my window, in my ears, a symphony.