Friday, August 29, 2014

continuing silence


  When the elevator door opened, i startled the lone occupant. Her dog however, remained peacefully seated on the floor, completely undisturbed.
  "I thought you had that dog with you!", she said.
  I motioned that i don't speak and she seemed delighted at the opportunity. As we dropped downward, she began a litany of complaints against "John" (name changed to protect the innocent). John is a dog i walk that lives on her floor.
  John came from a shelter and you can tell he suffered some abuse before he was put up for adoption. He is a bit skittish and very defensive. He is also one of the warmest and most affectionate dogs i've ever taken care of.
  But my elevator companion didn't see him that way. She called him a "barker" and said he was "crazy". Her diatribe had just wound down as we reached the lobby.
  When the elevator door opened, she roused her subdued dog, smiled, and thanked me for listening before bustling off. I smiled back and proffered a small wave. I guess she just needed to vent and John was actually just a small part of a bigger problem.
  I have found that just smiling alleviates a lot of the unease many people experience due to my silence. Most of the time if you smile at a human being, they will smile back. It's a conditioned response we all have hardwired into ourselves since infancy.
  Just as a side note: You should never smile at a strange dog. Showing your teeth is a sign of aggression in the canine world.

Monday, August 25, 2014

continuing silence


  His shopping cart had more stuff loaded on it than i have in my entire apartment. As he pushed it down the street, he yelled continuously. He yelled at cars, he yelled at other people, and he yelled to himself.
  I was walking one of my dogs when we caught his eye. From across the road he yelled out, "What kind of dog is that?!!"
  I wasn't close enough to him that he would have been able to read my lips, so i just gave him my usual "i don't speak" gesture.
  He responded with a quiet nod and gave me a thumbs up. Then he placed his index finger to his lips in a librarian style, be quiet way and quietly continued to push his cart along the sidewalk.
  A few minutes later i could hear him yelling at some construction workers about a block away. He was yelling at them to "Shut the f*ck up!".

Friday, August 22, 2014

continuing silence


  I was riding my bike and suddenly a car door opened right in front of me. I missed getting completely knocked off my bicycle by a millimeter. The only sound i made was a quick, startled gasp of air. No yell, no angry expletive. The driver who had opened the door yelled out an apology as i just kept on riding.
  I think i was more surprised by my reaction than i was by the opening door. At last, my instinctual response is now silence.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

continuing silence


  To some people silence implies mystery. There exists some deep, dark secret underneath a refusal to speak. They view self imposed silence as some kind of psychological wall that needs to be breached in order to set "right" a person or situation. Silence is an aberration to them.
  I'm afraid my silence isn't nearly that romantic. I'm not speaking as a kind of experiment. It is not to cover anything up.
  I feel noise is more of a cover up than silence anyway. Noise has a way of drowning out uncertainty, reason and truth. There are no walls in silence, no fortifications in peace. Bull horns are used in altercations and the construction of walls is always noisy work.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

continuing silence


  When you are silent in social situations, it's like wearing sunglasses indoors. People think you are strange and can be very suspicious of you. But i can't think of a better way to cut down on the glare and see things with so much more clarity.

Monday, August 18, 2014

continuing silence


  No one was hurt. The other driver, her passenger and myself were all fine. But both of our cars had suffered some damage. The person who rear ended me was very agitated, and so was i at first... But i resolved to stay silent through what i was sure was going to be a long and drawn out ordeal.
  After we had both pulled over, the other driver got out of her car and approached me. She looked irritated, but anxiously said it had been all her fault. She seemed braced for a verbal assault to come from me. She kept on talking nonstop as if she was fending off my inevitable wrath with a barricade of talk.
  After a few minutes, i smiled and motioned that i do not speak. I then took out my cell phone and proceeded to report the accident to my insurance company via email. I mimed to her that she should do the same.
  I had finished filing my own report by the time she was finally taken off "hold" and had the opportunity to speak with a representative from her insurance company. She chain smoked while pacing back and forth, relaying the pertinent information with called out help from her passenger.
  I felt almost removed from the whole experience as it unfolded around me. I quietly watched as the other driver wrote out all the important information as it was being fed to her. She took my documents, presented hers, and occasionally gave me a thumbs up as her call progressed. She was a flurry of noisy activity and only paused occasionally to berate herself and her misfortune.
  After about 45 minutes, she was done with her call and presented me with the paperwork i needed to file a claim with her insurance company. She then gave me a hug (i'm not kidding), got back in her car and drove off.
  I paused a minute to process everything that had happened before getting back into my own car. The police cruiser she had called for an hour ago, finally appeared and i just waved them away. There was no need for them after all.

Friday, August 15, 2014

continuing silence


  She held her ear about an inch away from my mouth. I don't know what she hoped to hear. Maybe the sound of the ocean?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

continuing silence


  I often see these same three little kids whenever i walk this particular dog. They always ask to pet him, and are very aware that i don't speak.
  There was a new face with them today that i had never seen before. She smiled and gave me a big bright "Hello!".
  One of the kids i already knew quickly turned to her and said, "Shhh, he doesn't talk. You have to whisper."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

continuing silence


  I have pretty much stopped telling people i can hear them. I like being able to surreptitiously stare into their faces.
  Facial expressions say so much more than fickle mouths. The only way people look you in the eye anymore, is if they think you're reading their lips.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

continuing silence


  It just occurred to me, maybe the human love of the musical components of beat and rhythm, starts in the womb. The reassuring beat of a mother's heart, so calming and pleasant to the yet unborn.
  My mother was taken from me when i was very young. I remember hearing her suffering at night.
  I loathe the sound of my heartbeat and the feel of my pulse. I would rather get a shot than have my blood pressure taken. This "music" the human body makes is a dirge to me. Just a pounding reminder of my corporeal frailty and inherent mortality. I despise this noise.

continuing silence


  I think i have discovered why people whistle and hum! Or at least one of the reasons (nothing is ever entirely anything).
  I've been observing people who whistle and hum lately, and i think it's a rhythm thing. Like when rowers on old galley ships would row to a beat on the drum. Or field workers would sing together. When you move to a beat or a melody it makes any monotony more easy to bear.
  Beats and rhythms make everything better for many of us. Music is a frosting for absolutely any cake, for a large number of people.
  But not me. Why have i never developed an appreciation for music?   I must have silence, for ever increasing periods of time. I love it. Even soft melodies are the ruin of my quiet addiction.
  It seems whenever i examine things closely, any "problem", is usually my own.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

continuing silence


  People dislike silence. By attempting to make myself an embodiment of silence, i have made some people dislike me.
  On various occasions i have overheard myself being referred to as weird, cold, unfriendly, crazy, creepy and full of myself. Mostly from people i don't know and have never spoken to. Sometimes by people i do know and used to speak to.
  I'm not arguing the accuracy of these observations by the people who know me. I think it is nearly impossible to see oneself objectively, so there may be some truth to be found in their judgments. I honestly feel people thinking you are "crazy" is more of a liberation than a condemnation, anyway.
  But i do not understand people disfavorably labeling me when they have never spoken to me and have no idea who i am. Perhaps these people are channeling their unhappiness over some condition in their own lives towards me. It would be similar to if they were stumbling through a dark room and tripped over an unseen object. In their bewilderment and anger they would kick the object even though they have no idea what it is and that it certainly didn't deliberately harm them.
   Don't dislike me just because i won't speak. Get to know me and establish a good reason to dislike me.

Monday, August 4, 2014

continuing silence


  I know it's rude eavesdrop, but i don't really take part in many conversations myself anymore. Besides, they were talking pretty loudly and sat themselves at the table right next to the seat i was occupying.
  While i quietly sipped my coffee, they both animatedly talked about their mutual acquaintances. Just for fun, i counted the times they used the word "like" during their conversation.
  87 times.
  I was seated next to them for a little over 10 minutes.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

continuing silence


  The fire engines rush by, their sirens screaming. The noise is almost agonizing and i feel like my eardrums are going to shatter.
  Concerned about the highly sensitive ears of the dog i'm walking, i stoop to cover them. It's then that i realize he hasn't reacted to the loud tumult whatsoever. He couldn't care less and is calmly walking along in front of me like always.