Saturday, December 29, 2012


For some time now I have made a practice of choosing a word to contemplate for the year.  2012's word was "quiet".  Now with the year coming to an end it is time for reflection as well and making my final choice for 2013.  But first a little about my tradition.  

I have a great love of words.  Not only their meaning but I like their shapes.  I love just to look at particular letters.  (cursive capital G has been my favorite since I was a girl~~O is my other favorite letter).  I have been a terrible speller all my life (much gratitude for spell checkers...though sometime my spelling is so bad spell check can't figure it out!).  The word "if" can look wrong to me.  I was a good student in school, otherwise (back in my day we were graded on was a subject in grammar school).  Well this affliction made me  friends with dictionaries.  I still love to read them.  A high school teacher finally had me tested and I seem to have some mild form of dyslexia.  But it is a blessing.  Simplest words looking "wrong" to me has created a need to look.  I sometimes just look at a word for a while until my brain assures me that it is spelled correctly. During that "looking" I see more than the meaning and the spelling.  I see flowing lines and beauty.

I am a seeker.  I am on the search for meaning in this life.  I am inclined to experiment with different practices to energize my search.  Some work for me, some don't.  The word for the year practice is a keeper!  I started at age 40 and have kept it up every year since.  Some of the more memorable word include: enough, truth, relish, and humble.  I have a big story around "humble" that I will share later this winter.  It goes along with this piece of fiber art I created.

So this year was QUIET.  Quiet has been a rather quiet word for me.  No big shake ups that I am aware of but, I am quieter.  Especially, with my teenage son.  It was his request for me to speak in a lower tone that prompted the word choice.  I have a bit of a hearing loss, so I guess I talk louder than I used too.  I have been putting awareness towards my level of speech.  I also took 2 days of silence during the summer to get really quiet.  I even taught Runa to come when I clapped so I didn't have to speak.  I have surrounded my self with more quiet.  I watch less TV, I seldom listen to the radio, and have been engaging in tasks that quiet my busy brain.  I looked into "Quietism", not an idea I need to explore further but, glad to know it exists .  Quiet is not the same as silence.  It is closer to stillness but, not quite that either.  Of course, I read many dictionary and thesaurus definitions, my favorite was "freedom from unwanted sound".  I think this describes quiet the best for me.  But, now it is time to put quiet to bed. I will always have more awareness for the word from here on out.  It is so nice and quiet here now with all of our snow, a perfect time to say good bye. I will leave you with this wonderful Pablo Neruda poem I discovered during this year's searchings.

Keeping Quiet 
by Pablo Neruda. (trans. Alastair Reid.)

And now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth
let's not speak in any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about,
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I'll count up to twelve,
and you keep quiet and I will go.

The Path Continues 

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