After a bit over three quarters of a century, the “sounds of silence” have acquired a new meaning, one no longer political. They now represent the realization, one often addressed by many of all ages, regarding the importance of appreciating the value of solitude and self-reliance. Not because others have let us down, that would be merely reactive, or because our health is failing and mortality seems near (it’s not, or doesn’t seem to be), but just because, after so many experiences, good as well as bad, we may finally realize to whom we owe ultimate loyalty, perhaps even love, although love seems to become more nebulous as I age, something I know is different with many, perhaps most others.
In my case, I’ve come to realize that “hello darkness my old friend” is not a rhetorical use of an oxymoron, but a realization that the person I am, the person I’ve been, really is an old friend, one who will not abandon me regardless of how often I criticize myself, and how frequently I’ve regretted paths not trod as well as turns I’ve taken.
The friend in the mirror does not look as he once did, but subtly diminishing eyesight makes the site at least tolerable, as does the care I’ve taken of the body we share, at least usually. Our conversations are more wide ranging as well as more profound, and rather than seeking answers, we now more frequently enjoy the expanding range of fascinating questions which experience permits us to explore, the new dimensions of our perceptions, jokes now finally fully understood. Old books reread with new meanings found. Poetry, finally making more sense, at least sometimes.
The world, as it seemingly aways has, seems bound for hell in a handbasket, and I keep trying to make a dent, however small, in efforts to salvage it. Although now, I’m not as sure as I once was, why. I really think I understand Cassandra’s primordial frustrations, perhaps those of the primordially long chain of parents as well, and, of course, to some extent at least, my own.
From the shadows I think I hear Ebenezer Scrooge whispering “bah humbug”, even when Christmas is long past and not yet near. And I smile, perhaps even chuckle. Perhaps he had a point. Perhaps he was right and the three angels sent to devil him were wrong. Or, perhaps not.
Cycles seem concerning. How does one break free? Do I really want to? Or would it be awesome to be able to start anew, this life’s lessons not just learned but remembered too.
“The sounds of silence, I’ve loved that song, the words, the tune. Meanings I once thought I’d grasped. And I wonder, … how would I write that song today, … if I only could.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2023; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). However, he is also fascinated by mythology, religion, physics, astronomy and mathematics, especially with matters related to quanta and cosmogony. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.