Absolute silence – do we ever really experience it. I mean the absolute silence of nothingness. I don’t sleep well, so I’m up at 2 and 3 am and there still isn’t silence. Quiet maybe. Spaces in between noise. Creak of house, whoosh of a car, rattle of branches, dogs bark, machinery kicking in.
But would we really want absolute silence. I think of Rachel Carson’s prophetic book, Silent Spring, and cry when I imagine a world where there was no spring birdsong. The quietness might mean hearing the leaves unfold, the tulips push up through the earth, the grass reborn in the vacant lot, the dandelions bursting forth in the lawn of the abandoned house. But there would be no hallelujah chorus, no joyous raucous greeting from bird to plant.
I often try and imagine the world when darkness was darkness; light by candle or moon. What did it sound like to be in London, New York City, on the “frontier”? I sit on benches in parks, close my eyes imagining a soundscape without human noise pollution. Then open my eyes skyward and dream of a starscape without light pollution.
I’ve sat in absolute darkness; darkness so deep I literally could not see my hand in front of my face (I tried). But absolute silence? Even in those blanks between outside of my head noise, I hear butterfly wings, footsteps, heart beats, white noise, distant all talk radio and opera arias.
I’ve been absolutely silent. Living on my own, speaking to no-one from Friday afternoon to Monday morning. I’ve been silent when hurt, silent when a voice was needed, silent when words should have been spoken, silent when I should have screamed, screeched, cried, shouted, yelled. Silent when someone needed a voice. Silent when the world needed a voice. Silent. Absolutely silent.
Absolute silence. I hope that I and the world are never absolutely silent.