For a month I will be actively removing television and noise from my life in an experiment I call “The Deafening”
I often wonder if I’m whimsical enough.
In a book by a man whose name I will never know, whose purpose I cannot remember, whose profession even escapes me, I once read that we are plagued by mucus. All pain, all worry, all fatigue is just a matter of the body being plugged. By mucus.
The image is traumatic: The channels of the body, veins, arteries, the backs of the eye sockets, under your fingernails, tears and hair and cellular plaque, all mucus. We are just snot towers, in pain and in weakness, walking the Earth, probably irritable and most of the time, at least spiritually, malfunctioned.
Where does the mucus come from? Food.
What kind of food? Every food you have ever heard of.
How do we get rid of the mucus? Fast for extended periods of time.
What if we die during a fast? You would have died anyways because of the mucus.
What if we fast and we are still in pain? Kill yourself.
I never finished the book.
I think about fasting all the time. I think about lightening myself, removing the mucus and floating, as if my bones have evaporated, my muscles have been scraped away and all organs are hollowed, no mucus, no goop, no filling. In that place, where I am just a mind and shell, I hope to write.
I work in a bakery. Most of the time the echo of (mostly tiny) women beating the shit out of croissant dough or butter takes over the soundscape, disharmonizing with the 70s or 80s rock soundtrack and the internally-provocative chatter amongst those who can sit and “meet” at a café table for four hours on a Monday while the rest of us are rising to the dutiful occasion of serving French Pastry, shouting orders to one another, taking orders shouted at us from the other side of the glass and I never stop to eat.
For seven hours, the world around me rises. I am running and running across the one-lane landscape of a very loud and inordinately busy indoor Parisian oasis, dehydrated and hungry, I am chained to the task, overwhelmed by the heaviness of space.
There is too much here. I am listening, I am trying to listen and accommodate but the result is dizzying and the ego-pulsing errors are creating self-judgment. All I hear is the noise and then the noise of my task. I cannot achieve whimsy here. It is too fucking loud.
I am fasting and hoping to return home to work, meanwhile I am surrounded by really great food. It contributes to the noise of the space, people asking about food, for food, searching out a new consumptive habit or just pleasure for the day. FOOD is the goal, the hope, the myth of purpose surrounds it’s existence and I never consume food while I am there. I only ever accessorize its consumption for others. I leave hungry, usually and I hope to go home to work.
Today it worked.
I ate soup when I got home.
I planned to eat soup and so I ate soup, carrot soup that I have prepared and left in my fridge. It was a cup of kind-of-fine carrot soup, just enough.
On other days I would sit in front of the television, mucus-filled, eating maybe a lot of soup maybe a lot of anything and I would get up, feeling heavier and take a nap.
But, today is the deafening.
There is no TV.
The soup, boiled, sat on my counter.
I meditated. I use a meditation app called Calm on my phone. Every day I listen to the same woman lead me through a guided meditation, a lesson in mindfulness while I sit, with my eyes closed and I breathe.
This practice is recommendable. I always do it in the morning, as I did this morning, and I always plan to come home and meditate again, to center again (or try to) but I am usually busy watching Dr. Phil.
Today I boiled the soup. I let the soup sit on the counter. I meditated. I used the exact same meditation that I listened to this morning.
I have used this app for months and I have always liked the woman’s voice. She sounds like she is smiling. I have no idea how anyone does that without laughing but she sounds content and blissful. For all I know she is a robot and/or marijuana lord. I am fine with either of those realities. I love her voice.
Today, as I worked through chaos, my co-worker failing to arrive until about two hours into her shift, running the floor by myself I worked to deafen myself.
I do not hear the baker beating the dough.
I do not hear George Michael.
I do not hear the woman tell me she wants THIS CROISSANT for the fourth time while indicating a very specific individual at the bottom of a row of however many, I do not know, I do not hear her.
I smile and I nod, making “tiny decisions” as the meditation recommended this morning, just making tiny decisions to accept an instruction, carry it out and return to myself.
I blurred the demands of the environment.
A voice began instructing me:
Now breathe in and push the black button while simultaneously turning to retrieve the Chase machine from the customer
Thank your customer
Instruct them to wait, they can wait, they can always wait
Robot Marijuana Lord took over my head and I became: Whimsical.
Light. Light, only for the sake of the money. Yes. Yes. Yes. I have, I can, I do. Yes. Yes. Yes. Over and over again. Sure. Sure. Have a great day. Of course. Sure. Yes. Yes. Yes.
There is no noise because noise is a recognized disturbance.
There is only this space and the things that come with it.
I connect to each sound, I know exactly what it is and exactly why it is happening. It is here. I am here. And these are the sounds.
Reality is so much stranger than fiction. It just exists. It just happens.
The shift flew by.
I became excited to come home to my dog.
I lay on the floor and let him lick my face for a very long time.
I stood up.
I made the soup.
I meditated, returning to my home and my body and my true purpose: To write down everything that I think just happened to me.
I ate my soup.
I just want to keep writing.
The TV has not been turned on, the silence is miraculous, the acknowledgement of my space being so much more peaceful than so many other spaces in the world.
There is no noise here but I am leaving here now.
My purpose is abstract but my presence, somehow makes sense.
As it will when I take a hot yoga class on a Winter’s day in the middle of Toronto to a serene soundtrack and puffs or patchouli scented water.
As it will when I have dinner with my friend.
As it will when I return to work tomorrow.
I make noise too. And, for some reason, people just accept it into their environment.
All of a sudden I want to go everywhere.