I stepped outside onto the front porch the other night
and was struck by the presence of absence.
I didn’t hear a thing.
Missing: the hum of traffic, the sounds of birds, insects, dogs,
the noise of the construction that’s been going on throughout the neighborhood,
children laughing and yelling and playing.
I didn’t hear anything.
It was the kind of hush I normally associate
with landscapes muffled in large quantities of freshly fallen snow.
It’s a quiet I appreciate, just not one I expect to hear
from my front porch in the early spring.
And it’s not just that the noisier it is,
the harder it is to hear the vast quiet beyond the noise,
it’s that we seem predisposed
not just to focus on
whatever it is we hear,
but also to take it for granted.
In other words, it’s what’s essentially background noise
to the great silence
that we take for granted—
not the deep quiet itself.
So it is, once more, that our focus on the transient—
on what is by definition transient (sound)—
symbolizes our overall focus on the transient
at the expense of the eternal.