I tend to drive in silence more often than not; a concept that used to have me pretty well hyperventilating. My ignition was basically attached to the radio knob; it went on before my seatbelt. Brian never, ever has a radio on when he drives and I thought he was downright weird. If for some reason, I was alone in a vehicle with no radio, it made me feel anxious and antsy. I’m not sure how it happened, but now I never think to turn it on. Sometimes it even catches me off guard that it’s an option. ‘Hey! I could listen to the radio!!’ It is now a treat rather than the norm.
I have found, in silence, that I am a thousand times more observant when I’m driving. That’s not necessarily a good thing, because it’s not the road that I’m observing. It’s the sky and the trees and photographs. I tend to view my surroundings in 4x6. I truly do. I've noticed that I translate my world into what my lens would capture. It’s all light and shadow and composition with a view to zoom and crop. It has become an unintentional obsession that I am searching for the photograph in the scene, as if it is one single piece of a gigantic puzzle. I’m pleased when I find it, until I realize that I don’t have a camera with me and then the delight changes to regret.
I have grown comfortable with the silence in my car. I see the photos more clearly without the distraction of voices. Other voices - I still have my own that I have difficulty muting. I try to direct them when I get that uninterrupted opportunity. I say: 'Okay, we've got this time, let’s think about how we’re going to get organized, get focused, get productive.’ I force my thoughts in that direction, as it seems that they don’t offer themselves up otherwise. Lately, that file seems to be generally buried at the bottom of an overwhelmingly massive pile.
When my thoughts drift … now actually, that is a totally inaccurate word … my thoughts don’t drift – they jump, they leap, they pole vault, they scramble and tumble. Drift sounds gentle and pensive. Mine are hyperactive. I can see those little suckers in there, gorging themselves on chocolate and then running about like maniacs, totally wild and out of control. They are not lazily drifting. See … I just did it there. I have totally forgotten where I was going with this.
Oh yes ... I was going with ‘Thoughts’, and how, as I was driving along in the silence, a random thought popped into my head. “ LISTEN. Your word is Listen.”
‘Say What?’ I responded, because it's rude not to answer. ‘What are you talking about?’ ‘Your WORD is LISTEN.’ Oh yeah … it had completely slipped my mind that for the last couple years I have picked a word. The new year was just on the horizon and it was time again. My mind had not gone anywhere in the vicinity of that subject. It is quite cool when the ‘pop up’ is relevant and timely. It could have just as easily surfaced in mid-March. The message was clear - my word picked me. It happened like that last year too – also in the radio free zone of the car. Last year's word was EMBRACE. I did. The word for 2009 was SEE ... did that too.
For 2011 … I am to Listen.
Listen to the words and needs of others. Listen to the sounds of nature. Listen to my own heart and instinct. Listen is a soft and gentle word. Hushed.
SILENT and LISTEN are spelled with the same letters.
The radio will remain OFF.