I like to write in secret. Always have. I cozy up to the page and tell her everything. But what I like most about the intimate act of writing is the silence.
James asks what am I writing.
Nothing, I say.
Not satisfied, he wants an example, a line, a tip of a thread that might lead him to know exactly what my pen is deploying through the ink. Makes me mad.
Just journaling, I say.
Silence is a luxury, a precious commodity, and impossibility. It is that thing we never get, at least not the kind I like. The kind where there is a whole forty-five minutes of uninterrupted quiet. THAT kind.
James means no harm. He is different than me DNA-wise, he had his own room growing up. He does not mind sharing what he is writing about.
I hoard my silent privacy and resent interruptions. My DNA is traumatized. Silence was never part of the equation. I shared my bedroom with two siblings that turned into roommates and then noisy neighbors in Brooklyn.
But this week we are in a far away house. And there are no neighbors that I can see.
Someone on Twitter made a pretty page of the “NO Bill of Rights” from my last book. I recognize my own writing, I can tell my own lines:
“you have the right take your time”.
Even though we co-authored, that was me. I want that.
When words melt out of my mind, there is a sudden instant of peace.
Whole worlds vanish, and there is that elusive, instant moment of peace.
Here are a few places where I found silence as I observed a rather difficult period of 24 hours in a big silent house, juggling unruly teenagers, travel arrangements, anxiety over money, book deadlines, and James asking me what I am writing about.
ONE) Cooking a lovely meal.
I read a recipe for a vegan pumpkin pie and I want to try it for two reasons:
One is that it looked great on Rich Roll’s photo, I mean, look at that! The other reason, because I would like to get more pure in the foods I eat.
I find silence in knowing that I need to bake two WHOLE pumpkins on the oven for over an hour.
Who even does that anymore? Make your own pumpkin puree?
Anyone who can find quiet. That is who.
Pumpkins just came out of the oven, now.
Next step is in order. Every time I walk by the kitchen I approach it with a stopping of the breath, something that feels like a little prayer, like an acknowledgement of something sacred.
2) Beauty Treatment
It starts with the oil bath when I get to it, which is, when the silence finds me.
And the bathtub with the natural salts, the ayurvedic oils afterwards, the manicure and pedicure, the feeling of feminine, the cleansing and beauty process, the connection with what makes me feel good.
I find silence in taking the time for the ritual, in ensuring that the hands will be moist, the touch will be soft, the smell will be subtle, the feeling: one of self-love.
3) Pollution Free
I felt the silent touch of wisdom in the sleepover at my friend Tina’s house last week in Miami.
She uses no chemicals in cleaning her house. None at all.
I can’t even conceive of how hard it would be for me to stop everything I am doing and go through the things I use to clean, and find mixes and walichos and concoctions and old recipes to do it on the clean, to use just natural stuff.
I am a chemical addict, a product of the fast paced world of writing a book, translate it, edit it, get it done, produce a video, shoot it, edit it, make some money. I want it all.
But sleeping in that bed, I felt the silence of someone who thinks chemical free all along, even in the midst of life and work. I slept well.
4) The Call
I felt the call of the pen the moment I entered the house where we are staying for New Year’s Eve.
The sofa in the living room is new, comfy, and huge. As I sank into it I cannot help but notice how clean the house is. Every corner, every wall.
The place is tastefully decorated. There is a Japanese woman brushing her hair in one of the frames, and then…
On the little table, to the side, there is a Japanese abanico, a fan. I feel as if it fell from her hands. I grab it and flap it about my face.
No matter where I look something seduces me into wondering.
Why is that Buddha’s skin so white as he sits straight up facing me on the desk that could have been my grand fathers’? And why are his eyes one pointed yet looking rather stressed, his third eye slanted a bit to the right of his forehead?
But more importantly, why is there a magnifying glass next to him?
The furniture seems solid, expensive, long-lasting, firm, grounded.
Red, purple, black and yellow. Bright colors blanket the whole house and the theme gives me a warm feeling, which reminds me of the intelligent choice notto be in the north east at this time if possible, and possible it was, thanks to work things.
I don’t like the brutal cold or the snows of NY or NJ. Nor do I like the gloomy, decrepit and frigid December January and February skies.
I wish I had the power to declare I will never be there again, but I know better not to make plans.
I got the joke about how we make plans and God, or whoever it is… laughs. She does.
Not being in the cold is what makes my FIFTH silent touch.
I find silence in the impermanent warm I feel right now, however long it might last, I drink of it to the last drop.
I smell something subtle and nice. It’s the little sticks half sunk in aromatic liquid-filled bottles that lie randomly throughout. They infuse the place with a slight scent, not so much that you would notice, but enough for a person with open nostrils to notice there is the intention of a scent.
I grab one of the little bottles. I notice it has a little blue elephant hanging around its neck. Who thought of that? Who brought me the 6th?
I strike a handstand against one of the many wall spaces. And my silence 7 surfaces.
Between the end of the orchids painting and the Japanese lady there is enough for my feet to go up against, hands down finding balance, feeling the tremor of what it means to have the whole body on them.
I am interviewing Kino today, and she is getting me to believe I can do arm balances.
She says thinking that guys are stronger is just gender stereotype. Something clicks. She is right. Look at her:
I do one, then two. On the third one I count to six in full balance, away from the wall.
It may take a while (8 years of daily practice so far for me) but it can happen, man or woman.
I am always amazed by the power of the asana. How I look at the world differently when I come out of a handstand, how the blood has gone somewhere and it wooshes back in, and the eyes are refocused as I level the horizon again.
I keep doing asanas throughout the living room, the kitchen, and by James’ desk while he is talking to JetBlue negotiating Mollie’s seat on the plane. Through the poses I find mysilent 8 all around.
Every time his ‘on-the-phone walk’ brings him back into the room I am in a different pose.
Triangle, extended wide-open legs forward bend, headstand. I love the feel of the carpet. It is thin enough to be soft to the touch and prevents me from feeling the hardness of the tile floors. I get why old yogis practiced on carpets.
I find silence in releasing the grip from my sternum knowing full well that no tension there, or mind dexterity will make things go my way.
There is no way but the way of what is, as is.
As I relax the ninth silence of my body I open into a quiet stream of flow, striking a pose, talking to James, finding the confirmation number, squatting down to create a new pose, one that no-one has head of before.
I co-create asanas, a-la Shiva who is said to have designed all of them… They just come, they have no name, they are silent poses.
I find silence when I notice I am up to ten ideas and it happened just like that, as I got out of the way.
This being ten.
And they came from morning pages, from streams of consciousness, from a garland of allowingthoughts to thread.
I have a book coming out January 9th… “Become an Idea Machine”.
It’s about coming up with 10 ideas a day. It has prompts so that it makes it easier to start listing. 180 of them.
Guess I am one now.
An Idea Machine.
I got my ten. I wasn’t even trying.