Small Windows Pt. IV: Drifting in the silence

IC 2152
Jena West – Hamm (Westfalen) – Köln Hbf
10th December 2019

Two sobering shows in Thuringia. Plug-in, play, smile with thanks and onwards. The kind of thing my grandmother would call a Character Forming Experience. Now off to Wuppertal & Cologne and the promise of company.

Silence is like solitude. The absence of noise and the absence of company are not an accident. They must be allowed to settle.

I’ve encountered both these last twenty-four hours: silence today behind the rumbling of the train’s engine, solitude yesterday evening looking out from the spotlit stage over the listeners in the gloom.

I’ve brought with me everything I need to have constant noise and company. Loved ones on the end of a phone call. Podcasts and playlists on my phone. Books, audiobooks, notebooks. At times, I can’t bear to be without them, even if they bring me no more pleasure and I grow bored and tired. Because to turn off the noise and turn down the company means facing silence and solitude.

Silence and solitude must be welcome. Once they arrive, there is no birdcall or phone call, squealing brake or rattling track that can unsettle them. They have momentum of their own and at times I must quit struggling against the current, put down all my distractions and be borne away.

I cannot bury the pangs of loneliness that come to me when I’m away. There is no number of phone calls or photo feeds than can whisk me back home. But at times, when books and music can no longer quell my restlessness, I remember that those pangs are bearable, revelatory and even sometimes inspiring.

I’m listening to Lucas Laufen’s new album I Know Where Silence Lives. In the pauses between songs, there is occasionally a special kind of silence more profound than the absence of noise: the music cuts out to the sound of waves washing on the beach.



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