“When the Noise of Our Lives Drifts Away”

Photo by Brad Peacock

Climbing the Golden Mountain

by Michael Kiesow Moore


. . . and silence is the golden mountain.
—Jack Kerouac

Listen. Turn
everything
off. When
the noise
of our lives
drifts away,
when the
chatter of
our minds
sinks into
that perfect
lake of nothing,
then, oh
then we can
apprehend
that golden
mountain,
always there,
waiting for
us to be
still enough
to hear it.

From The Song Castle. Nodin Press, 2019.

Because my mind feels so full of “chatter,” I have had to learn ways to adapt, especially since we now have so many potential distractions at hand. For instance, I no longer sleep with my phone next to my bed, and try to stick to the rule of no texting or web-browsing after 8pm, no screens at all after 9. Sometimes, if I’m home alone and feel myself overly drawn into social media or work emails, I’ll unplug the wifi router and hide my phone, gifting myself with at least a few hours of soul time in order to get back in touch with myself. We each have to find the ways that work best for us, yet I appreciate Michael Kiesow Moore’s opening invitation in this lovely poem, to “listen” to all the noise our devices create in our lives, and then to “Turn everything off,” and feel the difference. I often have trouble letting go of the speed and busyness of work that follows me home, and no matter how much I can see “that golden mountain” of silence waiting off in the distance to be scaled, it is much more tantalizing (and easy) to keep feeding the frenzy and stress. I remember once being on a silent meditation retreat for five days, and having so much trouble quieting my mind that I began making plans to leave. Yet I kept at it in spite of my resistance, and during one of the seemingly endless meditation sessions, with both legs numb and aching, I felt a sudden shift inside my heart, and then I was finally able to “sink into that perfect lake of nothing.” The spacious emptiness didn’t last for more than a few moments, but I carried that slowness with me for several weeks, even after the retreat was over, knowing that any stillness we find in our lives is always “a golden mountain” we’ll have to keep climbing again and again each day.

—James Crews