Once upon a time, we had a common friend in silence, a primordial fire, shelter, some beans and hopefully a warm body to lay beside. Silence was a constant companion and it was through it that we were able to go out among our own and share a common truth and existence. This was perfectly accepted and an intrinsic part of the deal.
Silence, isn’t a popular topic in our society; especially when referring to the contemplative, soul searching, middle of the night, tugging at your gut type of silence. The kind that hits when no one is around, when all the emails and texts have been attended to, television is mind-numbing, you’re too sober to drunk dial and there you are, alone….completely. Whether it’s from a breakup, death or just a compilation of too much time spent between your own ears, no amount of distraction can quiet it.
Recently, I was in New York City, it was around 2 am and the streets were typically full, music and din spilling out along with the scents that accompany a giant city. (cigarettes, b.o. booze and bacon)
The lights were bright enough to summon a 747 from fifty miles away and there it was, that gut churning silence that summons jaw clenching emotion. I found myself mortified, praying no one noticed I’d actually got a little teary-eyed and thankfully, it was New York, so they didn’t.
This tsunami of emotion and silence isn’t unusual or uncommon, in-fact, I believe it’s normal. Whenever a major life experience occurs, the only way to deal with it is through time and what seems to be insufferable silence.
In retrospect, I realize that whenever a major shift like this happens, something really honest and amazing is making it’s way to the forefront of our consciousness….something that’s been brewing and waiting to be acknowledged.
For me, music has always been one of those instigators, but music that demands rigorous honesty and circumspection. Call it the muse, destiny or purpose, but regardless, it always gets my attention.
It seems that the Universe has a way of correcting itself and intervening when we manage to quantify or force our own will with destiny herself. Of course, initially, our motives always seem to be in check and we justify whatever it is that’s driving us and then the by-product ultimately ends up being filled with confusion.
Unfavorable events, circumstance and consequences occur as a result and we’re left wondering how on earth we got ourselves into such situations.
…Enter that infernal SILENCE
If you look at the archetypes throughout history, Job, Parcifal, King Arthur, Thor….hell, even Robert Downey Jr; all have risen to the top of their life/game with intensity and zeal, but also accompanying them was reckless abandon. Broken hearts, homes, societies, health, you name it, they got a belly full.
Then, somehow they seem to rise back up, renewed and refreshed, completely restored and somehow, better than before with a life and purpose exponentially increased along with HUMILITY, DIGNITY, AND GRATITUDE.
How on earth did they find the resolve to carry on, accept life and consequence with such distilled accuracy?
I’ll tell you how…
I had a mentor that used to preface our conversations with, “Matt, you got your ears on?”
And that’s when I was willing to listen; long after he’d blasted me with some kernel of truth and only when I was engulfed by my own heart wrenching silence did I hear, somehow allowing a new and unfeigned reality to evolve in my life or work. Every time I did, it seemed to take all weight and worry away.
I write about topics that seem to pick at the scabs and scars of society, but if you listen, somewhere in there is redemption and hope….ALWAYS.
Perhaps I take comfort in exploring these topics due to my own experiences, but it’s because somewhere deep-down, we ALL pull for the underdog. The one who overcame and created an existence that legends and love stories are made of. The ones that we say, “If they can, maybe I can too”
The fallen king, the junkie star that cleans up and makes the best films of their lives, the materialistic whore who fell and became a beloved philanthropist and of course, the broken heart that bounds back from lost love and finds contentment and an even bigger, more true love, and inspires us to do the same.
There seems to be an unrealistic drive that is systemic in society. A lifestyle expectation, one driven by media, the wealthy and near-do wells who propagate and testify to the latest trends that are deemed worthy.You know the type I’m talking about…the chisel chinned mogul, mountain climbing, marathon winning kind, full of charm and charisma, all while managing a fortune 500 company via his cell phone.The 40k per year millionaire and the trustafarian who claim to be on ‘the enlightened path’ yet snarl at those who truly struggle. Or the sedentary suburban who cashes in everything to go find herself through a combination of consumerism and fast-food metaphysics.
We sit back and go, “me, me, me, my happiness depends on parroting these lives and then I will have arrived and be fully satisfied and fully realized”
…..we’ve become spectators in a Roman blood sport of cultural bastardization, artistic apocalypse and ultimately,personal paralysis with no true sense of civic or familial responsibility.
Many years ago, I was watching t.v. at 7 am (don’t know why I remember this) and saw a singer being interviewed on NBC. I hated my life at the time and knew that my potential was constantly being compromised by a mind-numbing lifestyle of washing cars, dropping in-and out of college, booze and homemade philosophy… all this being fueled from the twinkling lights of media, religion and madness. I was thinking, “life is happening everywhere but here”
What I didn’t realize, was that it WAS happening, exactly as it was supposed to be happening.I chucked the tv, made a decision to build a life of my own, one filled with people who actually participated in each others lives outside of a (then) cathode ray tube and lived deliberately and purposefully.
Something almost immediately occurred and suddenly I didn’t give a shit about how so-and-so had just found God and love through their latest acquisition or critical acclaim. That vodka ad or New Years celebration happening across the country had just lost it’s appeal.
Dammit, there it was and though my moment of clarity had been real, I had to face-the-fact that I had to take action and do the inevitable leap of faith in order to actually realize this new life. I did it and it worked, has worked and will continue….. music happened, events happened, real life happened and it’s still happening now.It constantly seems to challenge my motives and kick my ass…relentlessly asking if what I’m doing is, good, true, if it hurts no one and if it resonates, it allows me to sleep at night. (considering I’m an insomniac already)
I’ve left a well-worn rut along this path and had a gazillion amends to make, but along the way, this silence seems to have given me more than I could have ever imagined and there are real, honest-to God red blooded hearts that I am fortunate enough to share it with.
Today, once again, that same silence is with me. I try to stay with it and trust and know that in the midst of sub-woofers, fast food enlightenment, IRA’s, and social standouts, that life is unfolding, at full volume and will continue to get louder until I get my ears on and hopefully hear, and when I hear, it’ll be you and me, hanging out around a primordial fire sharing stories beneath stars that were here aeons before us and will be long after….all while the light of tv’s, and computer monitors flicker and sputter down the street.
It’ll be happening…not somewhere else, but here, now and the crickets will be the best thing we’ve ever heard.
Peace, Love and Kudzu