Made it 38 times around the sun today…
Wake up to the squeals and laughter of my children and getting the wind knocked out of me as they hurl their bodies onto mine. I turn to see that smile I know so well and the kiss of the woman I love. She presents me with something she’s been working on for a couple of months with her Japanese calligraphy teacher. Several tens of drafts later, she has crafted it to her satisfaction.
A single framed kanji character: “silence”.
I can think of no greater gift. The single most meaningful word in my vocabulary. The single ambition that has driven my life. Either that, or she’s trying to tell me I need to shut up more.
My wife and older daughter are off to a craft event, so it’s my two year old and I for the morning. We sing along with The Police and Queen in our underwear. Then it’s off to the grocery store followed by a stop at the playground.
Lunch is just the two of us at the Udon shop. We slurp udon noodles noisily trying not to spray ourselves in the eyes with the fat, wriggling, worm like noodles. Each time one of us does, we both burst out laughing. Soon, we’re pretty much doing it on purpose. The whole restaurant is staring at us.
She falls asleep in the car on the ride home. I pull up on the hill behind our house which overlooks the river and the mountains. I lean against the hood of my car and watch the tall reeds yielding to the wind. The trees sway in concert, their rustling rising to a crescendo each time a strong gust blows.
Silence amidst the sound. Silence within and without.
Arriving home, I start setting up the BBQ in the backyard. Soon, a handful of friends are over: kids making mud pies in the garden, raucous laughter in the living room. The smell of yakitori fills the air. Beer, wine and sake all around.
A moment alone by the grill, I glance over at the scene. The sounds, the voices, the laughter, the squeals fade into a background hum. Time slows, then stands still:
Everything is as it must be.
Later, when everyone leaves, the girls eagerly wait for me to tell them their story for the evening. It’s got to be a special extra long one since it’s my birthday, they say. Tucking them into bed, holding them close, listening to their breath rising and falling, it returns once again. The silence. Connecting our heartbeats. Containing our love.
The girls are fast asleep, now. Cleaning up, my wife and I banter about the day. We laugh about the antics of each of the kids as we narrate how the day unfolded.
Exhausted, we settle down on the couch, my wife’s head nestled on my shoulder. We hold each other tight. It’s just the two of us now. Moments like these don’t come as often as they used to. I reach for the remote. What shall we watch tonight?
No answer comes. Just her deep rhythmic breathing and barely audible snores. I smile and turn off the television.
My eyelids begin to droop as well. I close them and listen. The silence comes to the fore again and fills the space inside. I open my eyes and the whole room is filled with it. Objects and space pulsing with it. My body and my senses too, pulsing with it.
Silence. The single fabric connecting each moment, each event, each person to the next. The blank page upon which the story of my life unfolds.
My eyes close. Consciousness fades. Silence takes over.