I left the house this morning at 9:15, well past my dog Utah’s usual walk time.
I felt sorry for myself: phlegmy from my first bowl of yogurt in weeks (but I want to eat dairy!), depressed by yet another dusting of snow (but I want it to be spring already!) and just plain tired (but I don’t want to go for a walk, I want to stay home!).
I stepped outside and was almost instantly transported into the beauty of silence. By some miracle, I didn’t cross a single person on my walk this morning. Not one.
I walked along the quiet streets of my neighborhood. Just me and Utah.
I marveled at the sounds of silence.
I heard them.
The distant hum of traffic.
The crackling of snow under my feet.
The geese finding their way home.
The swoosh of my hood against my ears.
I felt good again. I felt proud of myself for being able to listen to the quiet so well. I thought—wow! I’m such a good yogi, so in the moment!
And then I saw it. I’d seen it before many times, but this morning it struck me. A small, unassuming sign someone had planted on their boulevard: IDLE NO MORE!
It started softly…
Hmmm! I wonder what ever happened to that movement? Is it resolved? It can’t be…
And then it hit me. Hard. The media had silenced it. Just like it often does with movements or voices it doesn’t want to give too much power to. But it wasn’t just “the media”, it was all of us, it was me too!
Only a few weeks ago, Facebook was a sea of events and articles reminding us to join in, to speak up, to idle no more. And then, almost overnight, the celebrity gossip and the pictures of cute dogs doing urdva mukha svanasana came flooding back onto my news feed and (gasp!) onto my wall!
I felt defeated and sad.
I started thinking of all the people, and especially all the women out there that have ever felt unheard, unseen, silenced. I allowed myself to feel the deep pain and frustration we’ve all known. You know the one, the pain of making ourselves small, of not being recognized. And then I felt the heat of anger. I felt the contraction in my belly. I sensed the furrowing of my brow. I wanted to scream. I wanted to be heard. I wanted somebody, anybody, to show up so that I could just be mad! I wanted to run home and rant. I wanted to shake myself—and all of us—out of sleep.
And then so starkly, I looked around me again. I realized I hadn’t been looking or hearing anymore.
I saw the beauty of the fresh snow.
I heard a chickadee and saw her in a tree branch.
I heard the river running nearby.
I felt Utah’s joy of simply being.
I heard the silence again.
And I realized. Just then, I had lost it. In the revelation of being silenced, I had lost the beauty of silence. In that moment I knew—I know!—our voices are meant to be heard.
But so is the silence of the present moment.
So what is the answer? I’m not sure.
For now, I’m reminded to listen and to see the quiet. I’m reminded to trust that it will give me the strength to hear my own voice, and the courage to allow it to be heard. I’m reminded to search out and hear the voices of all people who have something to say. I’m reminded to hold the silence.
(P.S.: did you know that the Mi’kmaq community has organized a fast with members of other Nations to protest Harper’s policies that “reveal that the people no longer come first”? Read more at Idle No More.)
Myriam Khouzam is a yoga teaching, raw treat making, dog walking lover of silence. She co-owns sukha yoga centre in Guelph, Ontario. She sometimes misses the big city and is currently learning to love the small one.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta
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