Best thoughts can be found within silence


POSTED: Sunday, January 25, 2009

January. A new year. A fresh start.

Back in December, I thought of writing about a friendship that sort of petered out. But let's just say that when a relationship has breathed it's last, no amount of resolve can revive it ... and leave it at that.

Anyway, this whole year feels more promising. Much better than November, when I felt like a woman whose holiday spirit needed to be revived with smelling salts. Definitely better than December, the most trying month because it's supposed to be the merriest.

But there are days lately, mercifully, when just the thought of a whole new page in politics casts such a breeziness over my mood and I find myself staring at the sunset, kindled like a flambeau, until I too light up. Maybe that's what I'm feeling: lighter.

Perhaps this is why we make resolutions in the first place, to allow ourselves to reach for some little improvement, some new way of being in the world. They are survival tools.

Fortunately, this year I found another survival tool. It was inspired by a man. For the sake of privacy, let's call the inspirer Mr. X.

I called Mr. X “;a real piece of work.”; But I was provoked.

This time of year I'm more prone to surliness, and I'm beginning to take it more seriously. Last year around this time I told one of my editors, “;I don't underestimate the perceptiveness of my readers, and neither should you!”; Then, “;You just don't get it!”; “;It”; being me, us, women. He had (I am sure of this) no idea what I was talking about.

Back to Mr. X. He not only registered my arrival at my favorite coffee shop, he wanted to talk to me, which can be one of the comforting things you love about community - or a huge pain in the behind.

Mr. X went on about something I'd written. He had every right to. What I question is his right to call my opinion “;unacceptable.”;

“;If I nudged you to think about the issue in a different way, it's a good thing, right?”; I said. He was quiet for, like, a millisecond. He started in again with a pointed finger moving back and forth way too close to my face. A real stretch for me. I had this thought: You can always tell a retired professor. They still want to profess. Sometimes they mistake it for conversation.

Who needs this? Not me. That's when I slung my stone.

I walked outside. Then, for some reason, I looked back at Mr. X. He waved. He smiled. I think we both understood in that moment that he'd forgiven me. Which made it a hundred times easier to forgive him.

My resolution? Next time I say nothing and walk away. Then I won't have all the mental chatter saying, “;You shouldn't have said that!”;

And when self-admonishing quiets, little breaks of peace and quiet enter. In those pauses, I want to spend most of 2009.


Mary Lou Sanelli is the author of a collection of essays, “;Falling Awake.”; She will hold a staged reading of her book, “;The Immigrant's Table (La Tavola Dell'Immigrante)”; at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Arts at Marks Garage. Cost is $20, which includes wine and antipasto. Call 550-8457.