I suppose that since it’s a hashtag, and that I’m using Instagram to “broadcast” it, that makes the whole thing a wash. That’s a form of “talking,” and sometimes, it can be louder and more intrusive that an actual verbal exchange.
Setting that aside, I have very much been enjoying posting up an image with that hashtag as of late, because one, at that moment, there’s no talking going on, and experiencing that, and recognizing that that is indeed happening, has been absolutely splendid. And how rare is it to actually use the word splendid and mean it?
I mean it with the #notalking.
It’s not that anything dramatic is going on in my life creating some special need for peace and quiet — nothing but the usual day in and day out. The meetings, the phone calls, the subway small talk, not to mention the 67 million reminders to pick up some tomatoes at the market the second I open my eyes and realize that once again, I got a terrible night of sleep. A million things to complain about, and a million reasons why I should shut the fuck up because there are a million reasons why I should not be complaining about a single God damn thing. Perhaps that’s precisely why I’ve embraced my #notalking experiences.
The other day I was out for a run. It was a gorgeous outside. I felt fucking great and the bright blue sky was awash in those billowy white clouds that look like you could just lie down in one of them and have one of those afternoon naps that, upon awakening, you actually feel rested and healthy and free of the to-do-list stranglehold. Quite suddenly there was an empty bench right in front of me, which overlooked a pond full of gorgeous yellow flowers. I said to myself, that’s where I will go, in my mind, the next time I’m sitting in a meeting and feeling like the only option I have to escape the droning on of subpar professionals is to stand up and make a running start at the window. No one else was around. It was the perfect place to take a seat and enjoy the view, and say not a single word to anyone, and have no one say a single word to me.
And all last month, I took a weekly drawing class. The instructor did just the right amount of instructing — enough to teach us a thing or two, but still leaving plenty of time for us to simply explore the craft. How nice it was to sit in that class with my fellow students and not get to know each other at all. I treasured the time I got to stare down at my pad of paper and commence with flailing attempts to draw various objects and faces and figures. All in total, art loft hot silence.
So when I had lunch by myself the other day, after one of those days, and realized my mood was brightening, I took notice. The sandwich was good — damn good, in fact. And a damn good sandwich can definitely make me feel better. But something else was going on.
Not being able to turn to someone and discuss this electric feeling that I was experiencing brought about a revelation. I had walked into this restaurant alone, and truthfully, I had almost gone straight home, because I was wallowing in my own self-pity — a combination of boredom, self-doubt, too little sleep, and a general sense of feeling utterly unaccomplished, that day, and all the days before as well. I’m glad I decided to continue on and get to that restaurant. So that I could realize that what was lifting my spirits was the fact that I was engaged in thought and completely free and clear of all the usual claptrap.
Since then, I’ve made a point of not only embracing this sensibility, but seeking it out.
It feels good to embrace the silence. I really haven’t made that many adjustments. For example, you don’t necessarily have to be alone. This isn’t so much about finding ways to avoid having to hear other people as it is about keeping my own mouth shut. I get that now. Not talking about it has really helped along the revelation.
I’m not just going to that empty bench by the pond in my mind. I’m going there all the time, in real life.