On… Sound and Silence

 Super bitch. It was intended as a term of endearment from a friend who observed that being ill has not stifled my feistiness. I guess others were shocked, but I recognized the love intended in the label.

Words and sounds have power according to the listener, I suppose. The wrong sound, innocent as it may appear, can easily catapult me into a “pity pot.” Take a squawking crow for instance.


I was physically uncomfortable and only wanted to sleep. There are dozens of telephone lines on this block, but clearly, the one outside my window was special.

“Caw! Caw!”

Such a loud sound from such a small creature. The super bitch (that would be me) whispered, “Go the [bleep] away!”

As the daily racket of trucks, cars, trains, and my neighbor with the bells on her door revved up, the sounds became more vibrant, larger, and rakishly colorful. Super bitch was frustrated; she just wanted some rest.

The neurologist had diagnosed my condition as Guillain-Barré syndrome. It’s a condition I had never heard of that, for me anyway, brings with it a great deal of anxiety and the need for a gargantuan exertion of will to follow my daily routine.  But I’ve had a series of IVIG treatments and am encouraged by my increased energy and ravenous appetite. Carpal tunnel surgery suddenly seems like a common cold.

“Do you know what caused it?” asked my brother.

“I think my immune system was compromised by the surgery.”

But no one really knows for sure. I pray for miracles like: I wake up one morning and my hands and feet function fully, and the tightness around my rib cage is gone. Oh yeah, that part is supposedly connected to the hiatal hernia.

I both fear the silence and at the same time look for the peace within syllables, the silence within the music, the balance in conversations, and the laughter in silly words like “super bitch.” My intention today is to write: my work and my creative words. And yet, I awoke understanding that I had to follow the natural order of things. The crow was doing what crows do: they caw.

I once had a  beautiful experience of silence. One early morning, the city of Oakland, California was brilliant with activity:  cars that were stalled in traffic blared their horns, folks chattered and shouted in the streets on their ways to wherever, and buses with bad brakes made their usual stops. I had just completed my morning meditation and was staring out the window.

In spite of the activity, it seemed as if everything had lowered its volume and moved in slow motion. I felt content, and at ease with the movement of things. Birds and squirrels danced their morning minuet on the telephone lines, and it made no difference to me.

I have been caught off guard. So, the question I’m asking myself is “How do I reclaim the hidden silence in the sounds?” The sounds will not stop; nor should they. How will I experience the healing color, power, and vision in the words?

It comes as no surprise. The answer lies in a single word: gratitude.

4 responses to “On… Sound and Silence

  1. Beautiful. That is the only way to describe your words. Your writing is a word party for my brain. Thank you!

  2. A challenging time for you, Sala. In the description you linked to, I focussed on ‘most recover completely,’ yet I know if it were me, I’d probably focus on the negative. I’ll focus on the positive for you, if that’s okay, but don’t worry if you can’t. Beautiful words as always xxx

  3. JustOneBoomer (Suzanne)

    Yikes, Sala. I’m a Social Security disability lawyer, so I’m familiar with the conditions you’ve been dealing with. Ironically, you seem at peace with your adversities. Maybe at a certain point, you learned to be kind to yourself so that you don’t “expect” to feel a certain way each morning. Everyday is different and you have learned to take the pulse of the moment before acting—-or not acting. I’m trying to give myself permission to do that.
    Sometimes we have to be self righteous super b@*tches. When I had a c section with my second child I knew from my experience with what I didn’t do when we brought home our first infant. When the baby sleeps, you have to sleep. The first day I was home aline with little Jeremy, he dozed off and I jumped into bed. No sooner had I closed my eyes than a jack hammer started right outside my window. I threw on a bathrobe and stomped out to interrogate the poor crew that was digging up the street in front of our house. “What, pray tell, are you doing?”. “Oh, it’s time to repave this street.”
    Mind you, the street was in better shape than any street in Philly. This was in Lower Merion. They were doing preventive maintenance! I wasn’t able to take my mind anywhere to sleep. I felt very irritable. Super bitchy is a more descriptive term;-)

  4. Gopi I hear you have been very challenged recently. Stay strong. Om Namah Shivaya.

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