Friday, September 18, 2009

Sound Check

Work, for me, is a noisy place. Oh, I’m not talking the jackhammer/heavy equipment/industrial kind of noisy of which experts tell us to be on alert for aural health purposes. It’s just the sort of noisy one can’t avoid with a job description that calls for extended interaction with 70 elementary children--45 before lunch— all wielding scissors, glue bottles, and an alarming number of coloring implements.

During my brief time with my new students, I’ve discovered that they aren’t appreciatively different from my former ones. Just like the students that populated my old classroom, these children came with a built in propensity to say my name in a repeated loop, complete with audible exclamation marks as each syllable leaves their lips. As is apparently customary, each child arrives fully equipped with an artistic emergency requiring my immediate and complete attention. And, just like in my previous classroom, I’ve had to amend my class rules with a “no singing” clause. Because, really, I absolutely CAN NOT have 70 kids singing jingles from TV commercials, theme songs from popular shows, and the inappropriate lyrics of assorted rap and R&B artists--even if we weren’t dealing with all of the other auditory stimulus.

Due to the realities of my working environment, I find myself seeking some good silence for an hour or so after I arrive home. I say Good Silence, because it’s occurred to me that there are, really, two types of silence. Good Silence is the sort in which I basked on my front step after work on Tuesday. Soaking in the warm afternoon sun, I closed my eyes and focused on the chirping of the neighborhood crickets. With a little mental editing, I deleted extraneous traffic noise and briefly transported myself to the deep country acreage where I spent the long, lazy afternoons of my childhood.

And it was Good Silence that allowed my husband to detect the call of a great horned owl—an owl--and urban owl! Who knew?—one evening earlier this week after the kids were in bed, the computers off, and our own creatures at rest. That night, I feel asleep near my open bedroom window to the lullaby of a distant song. That silence was very good, indeed.

Good Silence energizes, restores, refreshes. Good Silence is an incubator for ideas and creativity, and it’s as essential to my well-being as the noise is on my work days.

Life would probably be just about perfect, then, if it were simply an even balance of noise and Good Silence. But alas, Good Silence has an evil twin. Bad Silence is the sort one encounters after an ominous crash. It invariably speaks of distress, disaster, and/or destruction. Bad Silence means something is broken. Although the wreckage may be admittedly be minimal, but it is real nonetheless.

Bad Silence has, unfortunately, crept quietly (can it arrive any other way?) into little corners of my life, upsetting the otherwise happy Noise/Good Silence Combo I have going. Bad Silence is hovering on the periphery, taking the usual-yet–still-disappointing forms: those prayers that can’t seem to get past the ceiling, the empty inbox when a reply to an important email is expected instead, the *cough* blank comment section on a faithfully updated blog.

I’m not sure, yet, of the role Bad Silence plays in life. I don’t know why some prayers offered in complete confidence are obviously answered, while others seem lost in cyberspace. I don’t know why friends sometimes aren’t there when we need them. And on the comments…well, I choose not to comment, except to say that for reasons likely related to those aforementioned, Bad Silence feels kind of lonely.

Feel free to grab a violin at any time, here— in fact, someone please do! The sound would do dual duty by breaking the Bad Silence spell and preventing this post from ending on a sour note.

In other news....

Yesterday was marked a momentous occasion: I sent off my first magazine submission in, well, a couple of years! It felt good: like life is on the right track.

I made reservations to return--just with my husband--to the site of The Great Migration. We toot a fall trip there last year and I found myself craving the beauty of the fall leaves, the camp restaurant's warm cobbler and cracking fires to ward of the mountain chill. T-34 days until departure.

Although my posts have been more reflective than humorous lately, that fact is not intended to signal a change in format--I just happen to feel reflective lately. Not always a bad thing :)


Jen said...

When I think of bad silence, I think of the days and weeks after a loved one passes. That is bad silence.

Also, I like the more reflect posts, but they require more reflective responses. Tricky tricky.

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

Very insightful, Jen--both your comment about the silence and the responses. For some reason, your Bad Silence remark reminded me also of angry silence, another kind of the Really Bad variety.

You aren't the first person to tell me that it's, as you say, tricky, to comment on posts. Making thoughts visible in print is frankly scary sometimes--even for a writer. That's why so many people have an aversion to English class. I think that's probably why I sometimes get more comments on my posts on facebook than the blog--I think in general people feel more comfortable speaking their minds on the social networking sites (not sure why?)...

But never fear, Readers...I love hearing what you have to say--it's an open forum, let's chat :)

Anonymous said...

Your last two posts have left me in a very melancholy "silence" ....grey teddy, old toys, the house in the country.
Someday we'll look back on these days, and I wonder what our fond memories will be. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

Ah, my anonymous sister, who still can't remember her google log-in! Sorry to have lulled you into a nostalgic silence. I really try hard to make each day a future good memory. (and I'm glad to have so many that have been shared with you...and I love it that you remember Grey Teddy :))

Anonymous said...

It's not your sister {:)

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

LOL occurred to me later that there was a good chance it was MOM--it is you, Mom, isn't it??? I don't know anyone that would get nostalgic over Grey Teddy other than my sister or mother!

Anonymous said...

Heehee! I can't remember my log in, tis true! Jen is right on - commenting is hard. (I think I told you that before...) I always read, though, even if I am silent. I'm a fan!

Anonymous said...

Without bad silence would we feel and crave good silence? Would we rest in it's restorative power? Would we even send out those prayers of need? hmmmmmmm



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