humans go silent
all else awakens, sings out
it’s not us. rejoice.
On the morning of Nyepi I wake as my dream lingers, its vivid palette fading like a painting left out in the sun.
First, I remember the rice fields. It’s no wonder they now appear in my dreams.
They are one reliable constant that flood my days with endless soft waves of green. I notice I’ve taken the same photograph of them over and over. Trying to capture something…and failing.
In my dream I am walking barefoot on the narrow grassy paths that stitch across the terraced fields. From the sky it must look like a simple child’s maze. Easily solved with a fat crayon. Yet, I’m never certain where I am existing in it. Am I at the end or the beginning, the exit or the entrance? Stuck, or not?
Then I am off the path. My feet sink into the cool muddy water of the rice. Soon I am completely immersed in it. I try to swim through it, but can’t. The terrifying knowledge that no one will find me sinks into my dream’s awareness.
I realize that I barley know where I am, stuck in this child’s maze. If I can’t find myself, how will anyone else?
I awake and my breath is shallow and slow.
Tears wet my cheek. Then a burst of happiness, like a flower suddenly realizing the sun is shining on it. That’s what my emotions are like here – deep sadness and longing, followed by bliss. I’m not certain I’ll ever be able to explain it, but I hope I can hold onto the memory. It’s not anxiety or worry or even fear. It’s a kind of freedom within barriers that are out of my control. What else can I do but be free? Be at once happy and sad?
No one is working the fields today. No motor bikes rumble down the path. No usual sight of humans etched into the landscape like stick figures, afterthoughts.
Humans may be quiet today, but nature’s daily playlist is amplified. The landscape pulses with life.
I spend a long time watching the clouds gently collide and drift across the ocean of sky. It would remind me of home if earth and sky were inverted.
My stomach begins to grumble around when I usually have breakfast. Its internal timer well set. But instead I sip more coffee and water and it passes. Eventually I forget about being hungry. I realize how much of my day I spend thinking about food. Wondering what I’ll eat next and when. What I might prefer. What ingredients might be missing to make the precise thing I am craving.
With the option of food removed from my day, I redirect that energy towards my meditation. My mind is clearer when I shut my eyes. Only patterns of light without thought.
The Vladimir’s and the other Laura and I, a.k.a., the “Quarenteam” all speak in hushed tones, when we speak at all. Even that brings a sense of time and energy given back. We are experiencing silence and solitude together and in our own ways. I’m glad to be alone and together with them.
The day passes as if time has sunken in on itself. It occurs to me that there is no time here. Only this landscape. I am aging but time does not age. I am older because of where I am in the landscape, not because of time. One day I’ll be just another point on someone else’s map. Another figure in the landscape, faded.
The sun glides across the sky so slowly I think it might just stop and never set again.
The clock in the kitchen is stuck on 5:39, possibly that way for years. Yet still it hangs as a daily reminder – maybe everything gets stuck here.
At one point in the day I turn my phone over even though I told myself I wouldn’t. But I want to check the time. “Oh, it’s 2:40.” Then I laugh, it doesn’t matter one bit.
The lethargic sun finally sets despite itself and the everything quickly darkens. The owner of the house messaged us requesting not to turn on any lights or even light candles, so we sit quietly in the dark. There isn’t much else to do.
When the stars emerge it takes my breath away. It’s all I need to know that we still live in a beautiful world.
A firefly descends into our silent orbit. It swirls above us, illuminating the darkness with its tiny bright light.
I trace the outline of the light with an imaginary pencil and try to decipher a pattern – hearts? circles? eyes? I smile at the thought that maybe there are no signs, no secret messages. No meaning to our dreams. Maybe the only meaning is what we give it. We see what we are searching for.
The firefly disappears. I wait silently for what will come next.