Until you have buried yourself under the bushes of a Nebraska cold snap--with just a vast and cutting edge of the sky open and forever--you do not know what silence is: not the absence of sound alone (because here sound is still around you, though closer somehow to its sources), but a clear stripping away of any falseness or echo, or any movement that is beyond your life because you are beyond it, lying face-up in the snow where all eternity lives wide and separate in the sky. The wind blows over you because you are finally part of the earth--the part that cannot be spared from the ancient contradictions of wind and silence.
And if you liked that lyrical bit, there's far, far more in his wonderful collection of creative nonfiction essays Cold Snap as Yearning.
I *love* this. I grew up in Colorado but went to grad school in New York. Every December I would drive home, and it was in Nebraska (US 34, not I...80?, which is a completely different experience) that I suddenly felt like the world made sense again, b/c of that SKY. That silence is the same silence as at the Grand Canyon or the ocean (pick one), b/c there's such a huge, quiet context for the sound to disappear in. Thanks for the into to R. Vivian!
And you know, silence is never silence. Silence is actually like a black hole--it is the reflection of everything, and so it is everything. Silence is not what it is, or what we think of it as--silent. There ya go. :) And I-80 is quite boring.
What a beautiful passage....I miss the open sky of my Missouri prairie home. Sometimes there are too many trees in my Middle Tennessee landscape.
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