Earlier this week, my Daddy and I made a little trip, with some of Daddy’s college friends, up to see a dear friend of ours who is sick. Just a day trip. I brought my Papa Jack’s homemade banana pudding because there’s healing power in it. (And since I know our friend is reading this, FINISH THE PUDDING, SIR!) Considering that other suggested remedies have included vulture beak powder, I say it’s just as likely as any, only we know the bananas have potassium. The nutritional value of vulture beak powder is as yet unknown to this writer.
This friend is the friend who gave me this:
when he heard I had passed the Giant Huge Exam That People Who Do What I Do Have To Take.
It’s a rare example of a Noah’s Ark rendered by a Japanese artist. (Not the shelf with various Labrador necessities all over it.) It’s hanging in The World’s Smallest Apartment right now, but whenever I move into my own office space, it shall have a place of honor.
Anyway, our friend has dedicated his life to sound. First, singing “Silent Night” at age 3 in a key that even the squealiest of tweenaged girls cannot reach, recorded on a real, actual vinyl record. (He has a real, actual phonograph machine THAT YOU HAVE TO CRANK TO USE, to play it on.) (Google it if you need to.) And then in music school, where he met Daddy. And after music school, he kept at it. He figured out that sound has an effect on our brains. (Which now seems fairly obvious. Because of people like him who first thought about it.) And that it can be used for different ends because of this. His life’s work has been about sound. I. LOVE. Him. Obvs.
Being a musician, and doing the research that he does, his life is full of sounds. And while he was showing us his house, he took us into his meditation room. (It’s a real meditation room, he actually uses the meditation room for its intended purpose. Not just for show.) Getting ready to go into that room, he told us that he never speaks in that room, that it was a Quiet Room.
Andy, I did it. I uttered nary a word in my friend’s Quiet Room. I was quiet. It is my friend’s sacred space, and friendship and the Sacred trump my need to talk.
And so while I was looking around at his books and the religious icons he has collected in his travel, and just being near our friend, I began to think. About life, about what happens next, about quiet and about sound, about our friend. (Aside: I now TOTALLY get why this friend needs a quiet room. The quiet was fascinating.) (Indeed, you are right to judge me, that at age thirtysomething I am just discovering quiet.)
This friend and I have a similarity. We are both only children. We will never know the sense of belonging, of place, that a sibling brings. We have to find that elsewhere. (Since my friend became sick, the parade of houseguests has been long, so I think he found it.) And, just keeping it real here, y’all, I am terrified of being alone. An utter, primal, basal fear that one day, I will be utterly alone in this world. That I won’t have a place. In that room, Alone came up and stared me in the face. I looked that fear in the eye, and it won. I’m terrified. This is not to be confused with an inability to be by myself. As an Only, I need my space sometimes or I get terribly crabby.
And, I think my love of the words and the talking is my tiny brain’s way of making sure people don’t forget me. I think I figured that out the other day. I can’t promise that this changes my love for words (at 675 words and counting, we have confirmation in this very post that this realization has NOT changed my writing…) but maybe it’s nice to know why.
And the selfish nature of my fear can be filed under “Things I Need To Work On”. It’s a BIG file.
Maybe I just like to talk.
But my friend, thanks for the lesson in quiet. And please know that you aren’t alone. You have place and belonging in my heart and many others.