“Philosophers will say that humans can never be silent because the mind is made of words. Turning within, you will find only words and images that are parts of yourself. But if you turn outside yourself — to the birds and animals and the quickly changing places where they live — you may hear something beyond words.” — John Gray: The Silence of Animals
what do we care about
that so desperately needs words?
“without intelligent, informed conversation,
there is no hope for us”, you say
and I appreciate your point
but what if we were simply silent
in each other’s company
(and not while reading books or watching screens,
and lost in language)?
what if we just sat together, wordlessly
contemplating the sun’s rise or the rain’s fall
without the need to comment on it?
what if we just walked together, wordlessly
listening, watching, sensing, feeling
the wind spring up and the thrush sing down,
what if we kissed, caressed, tasted each other, mated
without talking, playfully, innocently, gently, unhurriedly
just let our bodies speak joyfully with each other,
teach each other the meaning of pleasure without words,
without the need for articulation, or reassurance?
what if we worked together, without speaking,
just doing stuff that seemed to want doing,
demonstrating precisely how to do it well, and easily,
learning, trying, showing, helping,
letting creation express itself through us?
what if we just contemplated each other, wordlessly,
smiling, admiring, attending, grooming,
looking in each other’s eyes, just present
without voice, and without thought?
what if we played together, wordlessly,
without a goal, or rules, or scores,
but just for fun, to laugh, to move, without constraint,
to dance, to do, as one, whatever we feel?
why is it we have workshops but no playshops?
what if we just held each other,
your back against my chest, or
your face buried in my shoulder,
showing “I love you” instead of saying it?
why do we have to talk, to ruin it with words
that are just labels, really meaning nothing
since we can’t hope to know
what the other is really thinking, feeling, sensing?
why can’t we just be, together, unabstracted by thoughts
and words of who we are and what we think and why?
why isn’t it enough, this just being together?
are we afraid we’ll realize the futility of words,
their uselessness, the foolishness
of our dependence on them for the illusion
of real connection?
what if we could approach the silence of animals?
I wonder if we need words
to fill the space of our relationships
because we have become so disconnected
each of us inside our head, that we have lost
the sense of communion, of being a part,
that needs no words to be expressed.
what madness has so obsessed
our sad, distracted minds
that we no longer know the comfort
of belonging to all-life-on-Earth?
the swallow and the spider and the wind
are telling us, showing us
how to just be, together.
hush the noise inside your head
and realize that there is nothing
just being together.
image: cormorants on pam rocks, salish sea; photo by the author