Two men in their 70s do Tai Chi at the park.
Wearing matching sleeveless bomber jackets, warm jumpers and khaki cargo pants – their bicycles discarded by a nearby tree. As if lead by a conductor, they move effortlessly and gracefully in sync. I imagine a symphony playing in their heads as they battle imagined opponents and overcome invisible obstacles. Fists loosely clenched, one foot raised onto tip toes, they slowly raise a knee, before planting the sole of their foot firmly on the ground and exhale. An act of “grounding”.
Knees bent now they swoop and dive together before slapping the inside of their thigh – the light cracking sound rings out across the park. Hands outstretched now they form shapes like shadow dancers at a silent disco, as joggers pass by, unaware of the orchestra.
The silence is broken by a pair of American joggers, dressed in matching all black synthetics – shouting to one another as they bob along. It strikes me that Japanese are naturally more comfortable with holding silence; with listening; with waiting; with solitude. And often when they do speak, it’s softly… In the past i allowed myself to be frustrated with what I perceived as a lack of self expression, and saw this behaviour an outcome of oppressive societal pressure to conform. But I’m slowly beginning to gain a fresh perspective on all of this.
Later, in the café, a guy is wearing a white and black VR headset.
He sits in silence yet his head sways rapidly from side to side and the fingers of his right hand move cursors on his controller. No one blinks. I stop and stare and wish I could ask him what he’s seeing, what he’s doing. But my attention is drawn to a loud voice, I turn and see a large rotund man wearing a Los Angeles Raiders bomber jacket, hair tied in a long pony tail that bobs up and down as he walks through the café, broadcasting to his two friends and the entire congregation here in the café. This innocent act stands out, because despite this place being packed out (there are zero empty seats here this afternoon) the cafe is silent aside from the sounds of the barista’s grinding beans and preparing beverages.
I’m reminded of this quote from the podcast I had on whilst walking in the park earlier: “Silence has a poetic quality and silence is never complete. In silence you can find wit, tragedy, fun and humor” Marcel Marceau – who described his practice of miming as ‘the art of silence’.
I love the idea that ‘silence is never complete’ – how beautiful to have discovered an everlasting force within our day to day and illuminated it for us all, Marcel spoke so eloquently.
I’d highly recommend the podcast btw.
I hadn’t realized the depths of what Marcel Marceau experienced during the Second World War.
Dan x