Friday, October 05, 2007

The Walls Of Jericho

Silence disturbs a lot of people, that slate of blankness that sometimes descends upon us when we, to paraphrase Bill Murray in the oft-ignored, deeply underrated Groundhog Day, we reach the end of ourselves. This uncomfortable silence happened a lot during those epic conversations in college about everything that always ended in the words, Does anybody know where we can get more beer? My friend Hank said there was an old belief that an angel flew over a room every twenty minutes and that's why conversation would dry up for a few seconds, to give God that particular space. The white space on the page, the margins. And Lord knows I knew about the margins. I had started on one and would end up on another. Of course, I didn't know that then. All I knew was that I wasn't anything special. That's a lesson I was always learning in those days, one way or the other.

I often contend that it's one of the great injustices of life that we seldom get credit for the things we did not say, the things we could have said that would have been cruel, unkind, deeply stupid because when we slip up and stop biting our tongue or taking our medication or drinking ourselves sick, we often say the something that wipes away all that good behavior. And so much of what we say sticks and hurts people, makes them uncomfortable, takes away their joy. I myself am gifted with an almost Jesuitical quality when pondering what has upset me. It's strange how I can forgive almost anything until I can't and usually it's a small injustice that disturbs me most. The big ones we have to forgive or we die; we carry them around like dead bodies and they break our backs. So we dump them by the side of the road. But the small things, we pick at like sores, taking a perverse joy in the reopening. Let that thing heal, my mother would say, when I wouldn't leave something alone. I recently heard that it was the silence of people that brought down the walls of Jericho, not vocal effort. Which isn't such a bad thing to remember when we come to the end of ourselves.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I always sings too long and too loud." Leadbelly

Cocktail Hour
Drinking music suggestion: Center Stage Jamiroquai

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday!


Oscar Winner said...

Andie MacDowell was great in Groundhog Day, but she was much, much better in Sex, Lies, and Videotape.

James Spader said...

I was in "Sex, Lies, and Videotape," and I stole a lot of dough from the Sopranos, too. HA, HA, HA!

Brian in Mpls said...

You are inspiring in your reflections

Pythia3 said...

Love this post!
I know what you are saying, Michelle. But silence can also be passively violent - i.e. the silent treatment - I think I would prefer the drops of water on my forehead to being ignored. I am afraid of silence even more than I fear verbal attacks. Those I KNOW well, but the silence...well, I never know what's next...the calm before the storm, so to speak.
Thanks and enjoy this sunny day.

the walking man said...

someday baby yes someday baby yes little girl and you know it won't be long.
You gonna look for your baby ...God knows I'll be gone.

Yeahhhh don't have no mercy:
please don't have no mercy on me you know I'm just a baby boy
just another lost sheep...

"Someday Soon" Otis Span playing with the original Fleetwood Mac

"All I knew was that I wasn't anything special. That's a lesson I was always learning in those days, one way or the other.

One of the first things I figured out was them that thought they were special were the ones who had little redeeming quality about them.

Because whatever energy they had to add to the conversation usually was the same as last weeks and last months and probably even last years.

The other part I liked was the not getting credit for holding our tongue except when we are blown out stoned or drunk.

Hell why would you expect credit for withholding the truth from someone...Jaysus if you had a case of the ass against me for example I would want to hear about it, even if it was one of those little things that eat away at you for years and subtly change the relationship...

note to self I did say changes right not destroys.

Sorry dear you know it is impossible for me to hold my tongue, I never learned the etiquette for that.

I will say this as a fault of mine is I do change my mind often about some things...but hey I am your bitch and as so I am entitled to change my mind anytime I want.



Cheri said...

I think the best statement is made when nothing is said at all.

Reminds me of the Queen when Diana died.

eric1313 said...

Love the title. I expect you to bring the walls tumbling down before high noon.

Groundhog Day is under-rated only if you hang around a lot of movie snobs.

Jesuitical is quite an adjective!

Wow, your second paragraph reminds me of good old Kierkegaard, my favorite quote from him, the one I sent you so long ago. That same silence that you mention is the one that he speaks of in this terrific almost run-on sentence:

"When the hourglass has run out, the hourglass of temporality, when the noise of secular life, with all of its ineffectual activism has come to an end, when everything around you is still, as it is in eternity, then eternity asks you and every individual in these millions and millions about only one thing: whether you have lived in despair or not."

--Soren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death

JR's Thumbprints said...

As I get older, I talk less. I don't know exactly when, but one day I'll have nothing to say at all.

randy said...

Si, Si, Groundhog Day is one of my favorite movies!!

Donna said...

You have pegged a trait of mine that has caused me regret and shame, expressing hurtful things just because I am thinking them. Unfortunately, it came into being at the same time I found the voice to speak other truths that helped set me free. Sometimes it is difficult to tell, before the words are uttered, how cruel they might be.
This post is one of my very favorites. It cuts deep.

Charles Gramlich said...

I know what you mean about the small things that bother you most. It's "the little things that kill."

eric1313 said...

Amen to that.

the walking man said...

Yeah.038 slugs aren't very big are they