Friday, February 15, 2013

Way of the Cross - Vow of Silence

Window Pane Acid Trip by J. Binford-Bell

Long time followers of my blogs will know I am not a religious person, but I like to think I am very spiritual. I think most artists are whether they know it or not. Life, however, can separate me from my spiritual connection with the universe and ergo the muse which directs my creativity.

Life can be challenging and annoying and downright irritating at times. The month of February has been that in spades with slaving to get the apartment refurbished and cleaned, the dog issue which gets close to life and livelihood threatening, winter in general, and a dear friend facing the end of days for a loved one. Oh, and my sister running over her cell phone. What does all that have to do with the price of tea in China, you might ask? Well, it just seems that when I am most personally challenged and at a loss I am placed into a position where communication is sparse, difficult or nearly impossible.

Get thee to a mountain top seems to be the message. Isolation on mountain tops or going into the wilderness or taking a leave of absence from life's trials to ponder the unknown answers at a remote monastery is a long time tradition in many religions. Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, and the Dali Lama are noted for these spiritual retreats. And Lent, the Catholic season we just entered on Wednesday, is supposedly all about preparation for the celebration of Easter, an awakening to a higher plane.

In my youth I was all about the joke of giving up something for Lent. Dad used to give up watermelons routinely. I asked him once why watermelons and he replied that you couldn't buy watermelons in the calendar part of the year that Lent resided. Then. You can now. I tried to find something equally easy before I realized it isn't suppose to be easy. However, giving up chocolate is the end of the world.

I have an Ethernet friend devotes herself during Lent to restricting communication only to kind things to say. It hit me looking at her profile picture with the duct tape across her month that life, as stated in paragraph two, was trying to tell me something. I had reduced my life to 140 characters like a Tweet. What could I put in my status message on Facebook that would attract people to my page? Why if my sister cannot call me am I taking my cell phone and cordless phone to the apartment in case she calls? My live was being reduced to those days in high school where you would not leave the house in case HE called.

It seemed obvious to me what I had to give up - the status message on Facebook, the Tweet, the shock sentence at the beginning of a telephone call. I needed to listen and not plan what to say or write or type. So for the 45 days of Lent (I came to my epiphany a day late) I am taking a modified vow of silence, subscribing to the modern world version of not speaking until spoken to.

Dad always joked that the first day of giving up watermelon was the hardest. I didn't get it because he hadn't had watermelon to eat since the previous fall. It isn't about the watermelon or the 140 characters. It isn't even about the sacrifice. It is about looking at your life and what your craving for watermelon or communication of any nature has reduced it to. Several things happened yesterday -- the vacuum cleaner breaking, and the neighbors' dogs still holding me hostage, my sister not having minutes on her burner phone to call me and I found myself mentally composing the status message so I could rush to the computer and alert the world.

And it dawned on me how dependent I had become to words typed in a white box. FB once was 400 characters and so I find myself thinking in that length like when I wrote a newspaper column and could sit down to the computer and almost automatically compose 800 or 1000 word essay.

It should be an interesting 44 days because I already got that a vow of silence is not about not speaking. It is about listening. And maybe the most important person I need to listen to just now is me. And my muse, and the cosmic consciousness.

Note: I am allowing myself to write blogs, and post pictures and links, enter into an online dialog if it is a dialog.


  1. Very nice. From the viewpoint of astrology, artistic inspiration and spirituality are all symbolized by Neptune. Sound instinct. I look forward to seeing more of your blogs. And good luck with the dogs.

  2. What a fascinating read. You're absolutely right - it's not about the giving up - one of the things it's about is the reflecting. Taking the time to assess or reassess. Looking deeply into ourselves and trying to come up with some answers. Not always easy. Recognizing our weaknesses and facing our 'demons' (I use the term loosely)is sometimes, far from pleasant.

    It's worth considering why it is that when you feel you're challenged, communication is near impossible. No such thing as coincidence. I wouldn't mind betting that taking your phones (not one note, but two) with you is your subconscious hoping that your sister's circumstances will change and she will be able to make contact. Solitude whether by phone or on Face Book is not easy to deal with even for a short time, much less forty days (I found out last year that Sundays don't count) but if we decide to test ourselves, after the nicotine is out of the system so to speak, it's amazing how resilient we can be.

    (I was plotting a subtle revenge but now is obviously not the time - I didn't have the energy before but it's been fired up again. A definite testing time).


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