I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted . . . (Psalm 55:2 NASB)
“Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, concentration, meditation.” (Jean Arp)
The past few days I have been distracted. Distracted by what, you may wonder? Mostly by my inner world. The majority of my time here includes silence. I have my machines and my devices, but I use them in silence. Les works away at his laptop, fielding emails and phone calls for work. We talk intermittently throughout the day, passing information, asking each other what we want for lunch or dinner. Asking if one or the other of us fed the dog yet? Simple conversations. But most of our day is spent in silence, listening to the dredging of the basin during the day or the hoot of an owl at night. And the continual sound of either the wind or the surf plays on in the background.
As our time here draws to a close, the silence has become familiar. But not all is quiet inside my head. In there, I chide myself, thinking I should be “doing” more, “seeing” more, “documenting” more. And all of sudden the peace and serenity of being here becomes a chore, rather than a gift.
On Monday, I rode my bike into town, and finally visited the little coffee shop hidden behind a screen of tropical bushes and greenery, the gardens beckoned for me to come and sit awhile. (A little sanctuary, which I’ll tell you about in another post.) On my way back, I stopped at the beach to read for a while, and then headed back to the boat to have lunch with Les. After we chatted for a bit, I wrote in my journal, promising myself to ride my bike and go to the beach everyday, to fill each day with activity until we leave.
On Tuesday, I complained to Les that I was over ambitious. (I started pressuring myself to do something significant each day, instead of savoring each moment.) He chuckled, and suggested that maybe it wasn’t too ambitious, it was just unrealistic. I sighed in agreement. I chose to enjoy the slower pace, rather than filling in all the empty spaces.
I haven’t posted in a few days, not because the days have been uneventful or even uninteresting, but because I needed a break from documenting, and besides the place seemed to be shrinking for me. The rocks didn’t seem as immense. The debris from the hurricane had been disappearing into big dumpster trucks. The places to explore had narrowed, since I had done so much already. Familiarity robbed me of my sense of adventure.
How many ways could I photograph the same objects that I walked past each day?
But yet, the I-beams continue to fascinate me, and the rocky shore shifts each day depending on the tide; it can be calm or spilling over with exuberance. And the lettuce seeds, which I planted in the colander from the thrift store have sprouted. (We might even get a little salad before we leave.) And the refrigerators lined up in the middle of the parking lot, who can forget those, taped shut for safety and lined up waiting for disposal. It seems like they have multiplied, as the surrounding buildings recover from the storm and begin the restoration process. One day, I noticed one of the doors had swung open, and inside, there was all the food left to rot and mold in the humidity and heat. (And it does give off a distinct odor, when the wind blows from a certain direction.) But that food just sitting there, begged me to take its picture. So I did.
Disparate beauty surrounds me. When I head back over to the beach, I tell myself just go, leave the devices behind, but something calls me to bring the camera or phone, just in case. I might need to chronicle something or capture a fresh angle of the rocks or I-beams. Or maybe a little bird clamoring for attention might want its photo taken.
What distracts you?