***Apologies subscribers if this was sent before. Software glitch so I’m posting again. MS
On the Quiet Raft
When I was in my mid-twenties, i had the marvelous opportunity to go down the Colorado River on a raft tour, along my father and brother. One day, someone—I think an Angeleno therapist—suggest that one raft be silent for the day. My dad and I both jumped at the idea. I probably get my love of quiet from him. What bliss—the cold dark green water, the walls of the Grand Canyon, and no idle chitchat.
What happened however was instructive. The quiet raft occupants were happy—the other rafters were not. They tried to get us to chat. Offered us beer to break our silence. Finally resorted to provoking a water fight. Somehow, they found our silence maddening.
“Why don’t you have a dishwasher?” my visiting cousin asks me, curious. I know where this is going. I’ll give some vague excuse, and others will extoll the virtues of technology and the conversation will fall flat. Substitute dryer, smartphone, television, or second car for dish washer and get the same conversation.
The simple—honest—answer is: I don’t want one. However, this seems unacceptable. I am missing out on contemporary life. Without accepting that this is my goal, others will try and correct me.
I personally try not to impose my own personal likes and dislikes on others. Do I tell you to meditate? To read enormously long 19th century novels? To do volunteer work? To put cream cheese on everything? No, I do not, because I know my taste is not yours.
And yet my (mild) distance from media is seen as alienating…somehow wrong.
One day in the Grand Canyon we stopped at Havasu Falls. There were nine waterfalls, and excitedly everyone forged ahead. “Let’s not go up too far,” my dad said. “It’s beautiful right here.” Indeed, it was psychedelically gorgeous—pools, green growth, lizards everywhere. We spent the entire day at the first few falls. It was its own kind of quiet raft.
I’m not a monk in a monastery or a hermit in a Chinese painting. I’m not off the grid, or even much of a Luddite. It is just that I need some part of my life to be on the quiet raft.
Please don’t throw buckets of water at me just because I choose the quiet.