the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: silence

Silent Night

When readers — even Sophia — write comments, saying they liked a post, it puts me in the difficult position of deciding what to do next.  I am familiar with the old Yiddish saying –  a man should never try to strike a hot coal twice, or the embers will burn his toes.

Since the last post was about words, I decided to be playful, and write a post about silence.  Aren’t I a clever fool?  Ha Ha Ha, I love blogging.  I can write any shit and at least one person will read it.


This post idea had me laughing and laughing and laughing, amusing myself to no end, when it occurred to me that I was making a racket with my guffaws and wheezing (allergy season).  Could I even write a post about silence?

Writing about silence is not an easy task for someone like me.  I come from a long line of talky Jews.  I like the noisy city.  Urban life wraps me like a worn, but comfy blanket.   I do my best writing in crowded public locales where traffic is whizzing by, offbeat horns honking in cacophony.   A few years ago, I stayed a month in a small Vermont hamlet, populations mostly cows.  It was so quiet at night that it FREAKED me out!   Every night, I expected a bear, or serial killer, or monstrous cow to jump out at me from each shadow.  I felt naked in the silence.

Silence.  Page One.

I cleared the couch of random papers and iphone chargers, and stretched out, flat on my back.  My goal was to lie quietly, focusing on the nothingness around me, until I could hear the silence.

It was late at night, so there was little traffic outside.  I could hear a car or two pass by, and a police siren in the distance, probably near the liquor store, but Queens had settled in for the night.  I was alone at home.  The computer was off.  The television was off.  The radio was off.  Usually, when I come home, and I am alone, I flick on one of these electronic objects, just so I will have some company sent my way through the cables of Time Warner.

But now I was alone.  Really alone.  I tried to focus on the quiet, but there was a distraction.  There was a buzzing in the background.  I tried to ignore it, but I could not.  I decided to track it down.  I closed my eyes, using my ears as my compass, and felt my way to the sound.  I ended up in front the Kenmore refrigerator.  Of course.  Despite their advertising it as a “quiet cool” in Sears,  this huge appliance was the noisiest monolith in the apartment.

I unplugged the refrigerator.  Yes, I was so motivated to hear the silence, so loyal to my experiment, that I pushed past my comfort zone and took my food source off her respirator.  And this was not an empty refrigerator.  I had recently gone shopping, and it was bursting with food products — turkey slices, peanut butter, even some expensive Butter Pecan ice cream in the freezer!  I was risking it all for my writing.  I was Blogging with Integrity!

I returned to the living room couch and assumed my position.  I closed my eyes, and prepared for the silence.  Any moment, and I would be a Buddhist monk, a Zen Master, a Kabbalist, at one with the nothingness in the world.

But silence does not come easy.  The brain does not fucking stay quiet.

“The ice cream is melting!” said my nagging mind.  “The milk is getting sour.  What if the refrigerator doesn’t turn on again?  What kind of idiot turns off the refrigerator to listen to the silence?”

“Shut up, shut up, shut up!” I screamed.  “I can’t hear the silence.”

But it was hopeless.  I gave a walk of shame into the kitchen, and re-plugged the refrigerator into the wall.  The familiar hum of the Kenmore returned and it relaxed me.   I never had noticed this sound before, but now I considered it a friend, as if we were neighbors gossiping in the kitchen.  I turned on the TV, radio, and computer, opened the window so I could better hear the distant traffic, took some Butter Pecan ice cream, still mostly frozen, and sat down to write this post.


I’m deleting my last two posts.  Oh, they are fine.  Nothing very controversial.  I just don’t feel like they are expressing anything that I want to say at the moment.  They feel “fake.”  I’ll be honest.  I wanted to put something out there so I could feel connected to you.  So, I just wrote something… anything.  I hate that I have to WRITE a post on this blog in order to communicate to you.  One day, I’d just like to do publish an empty post and title it “Silence.”  Sometimes, it is nice just sitting together in silence, watching the leaves fall.  Or the waves hit the shore.  Or kids playing in the yard.  Things like that.  Moments.

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