Touching Silence — Uma Krishnaswami

Essayist Reg Saner says, in Reaching Keet Seel, his collection of reflections on the Colorado Plateau, “Mountains echo whatever you tell them, but desert space is always a listener, its only voice a quiet so unbroken it hushes you, thereby making you fit to enter in.”

Some days it seems as if I’m being badgered by voices, all kinds of voices telling me all the things I ought to be doing, all the things I should have done already, all the hundreds of ways I’m falling behind. This is not a frame of mind conducive to entering into real spaces, let alone fictional ones. Listen to all the voices and it’s likely I’ll begin to feel the way I do when I hear about symptoms of some rare disease–they all sound familiar and they all sound so final, so impossible to argue with!

The desert rescues me at such times. It gives me sky and 360 degrees of horizon, and silence.

But it seems to me that I ought to be able to recreate that for myself, an interior space that can be summoned up when the voices of reality become too loud and insistent, when the work demands quiet, to allow those other fictional voices to make themselves heard. It doesn’t matter how. Walking, exercise, music, daydreaming, gardening. Whatever it takes. The rituals might change from one person to another, or even with the passage of time. But they matter because the ability to touch silence matters in the life of a writer.



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3 responses to “Touching Silence — Uma Krishnaswami

  1. I loved reading this! As for desert spaces, I think I'm more a water person. For me, there's nothing like the plash of a fountain, spring, wave, or waterfall to fill me with awe and the sort of receptive silence where my characters can talk. Come for a visit, Uma, and we'll head to the lake!!

  2. Gladly, Louise! Receptive silence, that's it exactly.

  3. Like Louise, I need water. For me, there is nothing like the sound of lapping waves – but come to think of it, that sound says "Shhhh…shhhh…shhh…."

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