Craving and looking forward to silence. Fortunately most of my classes are on holiday as are many of my friends, so I don't have to listen to my voice talking out loud. The voice in my head is of course a different matter, but I can stop and listen to my breath instead when I have time. Or the birds and animals in my garden and people, cars and planes outside my garden. Or my washing machine and the happy noise of our sun panels gathering their energy through their grey box of parts.
But not music. Not the radio.
You see, we went to the Cambridge Folk Festival, and it turns out that too much live music is very like a week of silence without any. My emotional barriers to music have been breached and I am over-reacting.
I first noticed the problem when I couldn't stay in the tent and listen to the extraordinary Sinead O'Connor. I felt as if she was in pain and the pain through the music was painful to me, but maybe it was in fact just me. No-one else I've spoken to who loved her set has reacted like this. My daughter says I think too much.
We heard and saw so many amazing relationships on stage over the weekend. We heard and saw so much physical, intellectual, spiritual delight in the playing and the listening.
We don't often go to the Festival even though, or because, it's round the corner from us. Most years we can hear it fairly well in our garden, unless we are on holiday. This year we weren't away. This year Van Morrison came.
I gazed deeply into his sunglasses from the front row. There was only a barrier, the space for the photographers to scuttle around in, and then the stage.
Not everyone loves Van, perhaps partly because he doesn't give his love away to the audience through the words of flattery we crave ('thank you Cambridge, the best folk festival in the world' - someone said this to the Cambridge audience, but it wasn't Van). He didn't speak to us at all but I'm loving his silence as well as his music, and in 10 days I'll be in the silence of the Silent Retreat again. Heaven.
NB - I've written at least 5 posts about the Silent Retreat with Sarah and Ty Powers, but the best is Jeremy's post!