I went and sat along the sea today because it had something to say.
I don’t normally to visit the beach. I find the 5km distance between it, and I looking at out of the window at it from my house, is sufficient most days. When I am on the shore of the Mediterranean I get this gut feeling that it never ends. Somewhere, somehow, someone must have made a mistake and that it really just continues forever. Thats one of the reasons I never visit it. Its too expansive and too calm most days. Its makes me feel a beautiful and majestic sadness. Today though was different. Today the sea was wild and roaring. The waves had force behind them and hissed as they crashed against the rocky sand. There was noise and movement. An orderly confusion. It was calling out to the saggy tan skinned men with their blonde chest hairs peeking out of their cut off sleeved T-shirts and to the women who walked besides them dressed in floral print blouses, some carrying little toy dogs. The sea was inviting them to dare to come to its shore and test its waters. I sat for a good while listening while the wind blew wisps of hair in front of my eyes, and at times covering my mouth trying to sip from the can of beer I held to its lips. In the end, no one accepted the offer of the sea yet it remained raging.
Listening, I’ve been doing that more often, and more delicately lately. By Apple dictionary standards, listening only requires one to be alert and ready to hear something; give ones attention to a sound. Seems easy enough stated as such, yet many things go unheard in our daily lives and surroundings.
Living alone in a small Spanish village, with only a few friends and limited contact with others has turned itself into a blessing for me. In almost a harsh way its forced me, literally giving me no other option to to think about, and re-think about things. Except for a few bad weeks here and there I’ve been extremely happy with these past few months, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get bored, or lonely. It was one day when I was feeling lonely and bored I thought about all the old folks in this town. I decided that I would try to do things that everybody else does to entertain themselves here, ruling out excessive drinking, drugs and sex. My thoughts went immediately to Antonio.
Antonio is an elderly man (80?) who lives across the street from me. It took me awhile before I actually talked to him, I just observed him at first. He lives alone in a small apartment, he normally wears the same outfit, actually no, he does always wear the same thing, which includes a little grey cap and a green vest with many pockets on the outside. Like many people in Torrox he leaves his windows and front door wide open, and so I just became accustomed to see him every time I stepped out my door. On many occasions he would be in a little rocking chair in front of a T.V. I could never see but only hear,…and 4/7 days a week he would be fast asleep in the chair. Then I got to know his name, and he got to recognize my face.
Maybe 2 weeks ago, I started to notice that the windows were suddenly kept closed, just as tightly as his front door now had become. It went on like that for a whole week. I started to get worried. I knew he didn’t have any family in Torrox and I started to think that maybe he had fallen, and like some horror story no-one ever thought to check on him, or maybe he had died peacefully in his sleep one night. It really made me sad to think that, so naturally when I was walking home from school this past week and saw him on the sidewalk I practically ran to catch up with him. I may have startled him, but he smiled and we walked together. I told him I was glad to see him, and that its been awhile, I asked if he had gone on vacation ( that sounded more polite than saying, ‘oh I thought you died’! ). He said no, that he was just out walking more now that the weather has picked up, but that he was going to be traveling to Brazil for a month at the end of the year. We said goodbye in Portuguese.
Tying this all back to listening, by taking certain distractions out of my life, like T.V. and the internet in my home, not being attached to my Mp3 player all the time I’ve started to fill my mind and ears with other things. Like Antonio, I’m taking life a little more easy, and enjoying more simple pleasures which is what the old Spanish people in Torrox seem to do, but not from boredom or being lonely, but because it’s what brings happiness and fulfillment to their day. In making these certain simple changes the small sounds that were previously in the background have now come to bring me happiness and fulfillment and it is through listening I slowly have became more grateful for what fills my time. The sound of a voice I haven’t heard in a long time, the birds singing outside signaling before I even step out of bed that its a beautiful day, the lyrics of a song I never paid attention to, the laughter I hear being with friends, crickets at night while I walk. I find now that no longer am I ever in complete silence.