She was quieter than death, because even though we can’t hear it, death has a little sound. Perhaps we could say that it is like watching a video program with the sound off, and gradually we notice that there is an ambient noise coming from all around us that we don’t normally hear, mostly because our attention is distracted by something else, something that we are turning over in our mind like a miser with his coins. Perhaps our particular coin is something from the past which we still feel a little ambivalent about.
Because the past is also the present, it has not really died, has it? It lives on as a memory, but not as a real thing. What is memory? Isn’t it really just a bit of neural happenstance which for a moment seems so real that the sounds all around us — even though we might hear them with our ears — actually pale in comparison to the movie playing in our head?
See, we are always the main character in our cranial productions, and in that way it appears that the waking state and the dream state are not really two different things. Sometimes in the midst of a dream, we hear a sound and wake up, but we are not sure if it was a waking sound or a dream sound. Often, we have to live with uncertainty, even though we would generally prefer everything to be lean and lawful, and without any cause for doubt.
She was quieter than death in that respect, because she didn’t appear as a memory, didn’t obliterate the ambient sounds, didn’t ask for any attention, but just seemed content to watch from the periphery as fabulous worlds silently collided and left colorful streaks of memories in their wake. Standing in the glare of it all, I raised my hand and she smiled, quietly.
There was nothing in need of being said, because the sound of the whole universe appearing in the form of that smile spontaneously achieved an elegant sufficiency. That is — in a way that we could never really imagine unless we were that silent ourselves, that utterly quiet — it was enough.