To Be Quiet

Violently crushing hundreds of periwinkles underfoot, I slip on a bank of slippershells, jerking an earbud from my ear, and suddenly I can hear the ocean and my friend at the same time. He wasn’t keeping up, honestly; I didn’t mind losing the earbud.

I mean, who can keep up with the ocean, but I only listen to my friends’ music (a seriously old guy thing to do, I know, sorry) and my friends can usually compete. ‘Cause a few of them are geniuses and because I love them. Sometimes, I watch the ocean and listen to a new soundtrack for it and the sound of waves – my favorite sound in the world – takes a back seat.

Lately, though, instead of oceanscapes, I’ve been listening to mistakes. Not mistakes made by people who don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. These musical mistakes were made by people who knew exactly what they were doing. Or what they should have been doing. It’s dull and baffling, but nevertheless, interesting. How is it that you can wake to a calling, attract an angel to your shoulder who whispers in your ear and together spew forth…crap?

I’ve certainly spewed my share, which was the initial attraction to other people’s mistakes. I’m optimistic and obnoxious enough to think I know better, but…nope. Time and again, I make a noise I regret; usually after I’ve released the noise, let other people hear me sounding stupid. It’s discouraging: how is it that we can fall in love with music and then repeatedly step on its toes when we’re supposed to be dancing?

Maybe because nobody’s a genius; nobody’s ever been a genius. Genius isn’t something you are, it’s something you tap into. Duh-uh. We’re allowed to fly with music on occasion when it invites us, then take a piece home when we land. The flight is ephemeral, the musical piece (hopefully) timeless. These musical pieces are evidence of flight, not genius. And, I guess, a heart, brain and viscera that’re moved by flight.

I’m starting to believe that my friends’ musical genius is proved when they suck laughably; when they wait so innocently for their angel to whisper that they don’t bother to be hack, to sound cool, to manipulate our emotions, to try and fool us in any way. They just sit there making stupid noises.

Of course, it’d probably be better if we didn’t make any noise at all while we waited for music to lift the metal bar and invite us onto its roller coaster; if we played nothing when there was nothing to play. Maybe the best musicians have learned to do just that: to be quiet.

Posted in: words, writing on June 5, 2012