Every year, when our descendants depart for their homes after Christmas, the silent season begins. It is silent indoors—the house looking like the siege of Carthage, or rather like Carthage after the siege was over—and silent outdoors—the snow here for the duration and bird song just a memory.
For one who loves contrasts, and I do, this is a good time: the hullabaloo of the solstice followed by the silence of the cloister.
But it would be good if this nice quiet time were to elicit something more than just a sigh of satisfaction. Such as and insight, or a resolution, or a revelation of some kind. Such as an idea of who I really am, or what I am meant to do in this life. I would really like that.
“You are,” I imagine that hitherto-unheard-by-me small, quiet voice enunciating clearly, “a true goatherd. Do not let the latest contretemps dissuade you. So what if your shoulder hurts and your does are dry. Persevere on the goat path!”
Or, “You are a writer. Write single-mindedly. All else is a betrayal of your real nature.”
Or, “Stop thinking in terms of professions, but go and sell all you have and give it to the poor, then get thee to a nunnery.” (The small, quiet voice is familiar with a variety of literary sources.)
It\’s been quiet here all day (tomorrow I\’ll tackle the laundry) and I\’ve been taking little naps, and interrogating the voice in between. But there is silence inside me as well as everywhere else.
And then I remembered Trollope\’s modest advice to writers—“nulla dies sine linea,” no day without a line. And I thought that seemed reasonable enough. And safe. And something I would like to do.