Wednesday, August 20, 2008

All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone (Blaise Pascal)

Sometimes I just have to get away from the music.

My appreciation of music (although I took college courses called Music Appreciation and History of Music) is limited—eclectic, occasionally ecstatic (I used to go into a trance on the dance floor—and I am still apt to lean forward and tap my toe during a classical concerto, in contrast to the staid reserve of season ticket holders), but still it is limited.

As a rule, I don’t surround myself with music—and the free iPod I got with my MacBook I gave away to a friend more likely to use and enjoy it.

I’m just as likely to soak in (and feel deeply) regular environmental noises as to play CDs or listen to the radio.

As I write this, the rain is hitting the branches outside my window. My dryer is whirring and rhythmically clunking with a load of bath towels. My dog is sniffing and licking his teeth. The neighbors are opening and shutting drawers. I hear my own breathing, and now and then hear (or just almost hear) the sound of my heart beating.

Lao Tzu says silence is a source of strength. Rarely do I experience real silence—absolute quiet is impossible, I guess, short of the grave. But moments of silence, fleeting and imperfect, can sometimes be (to speak prettily for a moment) lovely as melodies and bracing as drums.

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