I hear a dog bark further down the canal. Children’s voices are interspersed with their mother’s voice telling them to be careful near the water. There’s a gentle rustling of leaves, birdsong, the sound of a car passing by.
Then suddenly amid all this, a new sound grows louder: a chug chug chug… The sound of the barge gets louder and louder, making its presence felt, filling the space with colour and the sound of rushing water. It passes me by and then it all fades away again. It vanishes from sight and I can only just hear it in the distance. A moment longer and there’s nothing left at all, the sound has imperceptibly dwindled and dissolved. I am left with nothing but the memory of it passing. When did the sound of the barge disappear exactly? How long did I hear it for in total? How long did it hold my mind in thrall? Maybe these are meaningless questions, or maybe they are meaningful. They have much to tell us about how our mind listens to life – or not.
Life goes on, moment by moment. The sounds of the dog, the wind, the birds, the mother, and the children return to the forefront of my awareness.
The water is still now. I focus on the reflection of the cloud in the water and watch as it silently floats out of sight.
“To a birds song I listen, not for the voice, but for the silence following after the song.” Yone Noguchi.