Monday, January 21, 2013

Still Talking

My no-speaking experiment could be called a total failure, as I made it only about two hours between making the decision and speaking to another human.  I put my dog Snickers into the car and drove to a large off-leash area north of where we live; figured I'd be safe with the dog for company.  As she galloped away, I climbed the crest of a small hill after her.  As I topped the ridgeline, a beautiful young Dalmation cruised past me, and shortly behind her came a talkative fellow named Bob.  What could I do after he introduced himself?  Our social conventions do not allow for the possibility of non-response when a stranger tells us his name and offers his hand.  Soon we were chatting amiably on a topic easy for all dog people:  our dogs! -- their names, their ages, their favorite treats, and so on.

I thought of my friend Jim, now deep into his ten-day Buddhist retreat, and I realized that stopping speech could be best done in a controlled environment such as the one he chose.  Jim's experience will be more strict than anything I could handle:  no books, no writing paper (!), and of course no electronic devices.

I'm greatly looking forward to hearing about Jim's experience.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Year, Old Problems, What To Do?

Here we are, those of us who survived the shootings, storms and diseases that took so many people away in 2012 -- a New Year with its uncertain promise.

I have been thinking of things I could do to promote peace and harmony.  Apparently, writing poems is not enough.  The bathroom in my house is currently torn down to the studs; remodel made necessary by water leaking through the wall for years, causing rot of course.  Talking to the contractor, I find he is planning a Buddhist retreat later this month -- ten days of not speaking!  This seems like a pretty hard core way to know oneself better.  Does all the noisy talk of this world create peace and harmony?  Obviously not.  However, silence would not work either.  It is the lack of communication that is at the root of so many human problems.

Maybe the key here is using our powers of speech more selectively.  As an experiment, I'm going to try going the rest of the day without speaking.  I can't recommend this for everyone -- if you have to be at work this afternoon, obviously you will be speaking.  I'm teaching a class tomorrow, so speaking will be necessary again.  It has to be today!  At the very least, I'm hoping a new poem will be born from this experiment.

Would like to hear from those of you who have ideas for promoting peace, using speech more creatively, or anything else that crosses your minds.  Peace!