ZUBIN
MATHAI
author of the oarsman
Silence
October 12, 2016

I trekked up the mountain today on a beautiful and cool-for-Ojai fall morning. The sky turned blue from the morning white, as shy remnants of clouds chased after their long-gone siblings. I wanted to be quiet on this walk, and I tried. I tried to focus on my steps, on the fresh air, and the pristineness of nature coming to welcome me in her arms.

I am sometimes guilty of trying to force silence, for I feel from there births creativity, and I so wanted to do some writing later in the day. In the end, however, it remained a noisy walk, for not only was my mind a cacophony, but there were sounds of chainsaws buzzing, talkative people sharing the trail, and little birds complaining whenever I passed another group of them.

But when I came around a bend in the road and saw a mountain, all that looked back at me was silence. That mountain was pure presence. It had no movement, neither physical nor energetic, and yet it was the most-alive and dynamic thing I could see. When its silence lay claim to my mind, I checked to see if I was that same silence, and saw no separation. There was absolutely no difference between that mountain and me, even less than the emptiness of the air between us.

As I resumed my walk, turning around and heading back down the trail, my mind restarted and drowned out the space that was just there. And yet, I was still silence. I was silence walking a mountain trail. I was silence in a body, amidst the silence of noisy birds and people, and, most beautifully, silence regardless of my mind believing it was noisy.