(Essay) ...Between cherry trees, between words, between silence and silence - notes from the hammock

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While lounging in the evening on a hammock stretched between two cherry trees, I like to listen to bird radio, dogs barking in the distance, or chirping crickets. The longer I listen, the more messages can reach me. I am also beginning to feel an equally strong as obvious bond with the world around me and with the world that I can only sense. Silence is abstract concept, because the information flow continues all the time.
No man is an island, as Hemingway noted in "For Whom The Bell Tolls". Even if he thinks he is, yet there is the wind that blows on him, rain that makes him wet, waves hit him, a cat rubs against his leg, a branch smacks his face, a flower dries or blooms, an old jug breaks into pieces, and this is also a kind of message. We read signs in the sky. We recognize when a storm is coming. We perceive the rainbow as a smile in the sky, a thunderbolt as a punishment. A good omen is a four-leaf clover or the last acacia leaf torn out while whispering "loves". The past comes in contact with us, for example through books, proverbs or folk wisdom. The whole world is sending and receiving messages - not only acoustic signals but also visual, tactile and even chemical.
Having already referred to Hemingway, it is worth mentioning the famous six- word story here. It doesn't matter if he wrote it as a consequence of a bet or if it is an authentic newspaper ad. If we read this as the shortest story, it is shocking: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. It shakes to the core, right? You don't have to be effusive to get a strong message. Word is a mighty weapon. You can even express yourself in one. "no" opens the door wide, it says "go", "yes" hugs, locks you in its arms. "sorry," lowers the head, "thank you" smiles. This is the specificity of a given language, and our native – polish, in which words rustle like a candy being unwrapped or dry leaves under the shoes in autumn, grind like a key in a lock, hiss like a snake in tall grass or flutter like white sheets hung on a string behind the house - gives endless possibilities.
Effective communication, that is giving someone a message and entering a community requires our speaking and listening. We write and read. We understand what has been said - and what has not. What is left hanging in the air between the words. Pheromones and mint. Choosing words is like choosing the ingredients for a dish. You have to do it so that you and your fellow diners like it. Common meal. Broken bread.
She said one thing, I said another and the next thing I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life in the middle of that conversation. That's what Hank Moody, the hero of the Californication series, said about the love of his life, Karren.
But communication is art. It can be difficult. How many times we suffer from a lack of information? Especially in emotional relationships. Poet Przerwa-Tetmajer begs: Talk to me again ... I have missed such a conversation for years ... Every sweet word you say gives chills in my heart. Tuwim, in turn, wonders: What if not? Then it’s a pity. (...) What if something? What if so? The dawns will fill with pigeons for me, (...) If so, then ... - God !!! Wouldn't it be easier just to ruffle feathers, change color? Or, like this blue-footed booby, keep waving the foot to the longed-for female until she becomes our life companion?
Reversing it- art is also communication. Artistic expression. Pictures speak to us, and it's not just the Scream by Munch. I admit that its image and message were, in my opinion, a bit distorted by all these horror films, by the way, under the same title. But if we forget about the grotesque, white mask and the hook hand, then Scream - in four versions - helps to let go of all the existential pain or at least the momentary one. And you can always scream like Kurt Cobain in Drain you to show that you have had enough, too little, all or nothing.
What about the idyll and the richness of the Strange Garden by Józef Mehoffer, which will stimulate your imagination, not only in winter? How tempting is the almost painful intensity of colors, the lightness of being, the mallows and the dragonfly, which clearly does not live in this world, but here it is, because the world of fantasy and reality can coexist. But who will openly admit today that they can see a unicorn in the garden? (by the way, I recommend a great short story by James Thurber!)
And Wheatfield with Crows? The beauty of colors and pure madness, fluttering and spreading its jet black wings. The blueness of the sky, which probably could not be bluer any more, makes you dizzy. The brightness of the wheat seems to be but glimpses of common sense, narrow green field of faint hope. There is also a small brown strip of earth that you can still walk on. And it must be there that Vincent probably stood for a moment, with a brush in his hand.
We know that animals communicate with each other, and that with humans, too. It is enough for the dog to lie down on its back in front of us or wag its tail - the information was passed. It is like in Brzechwa’s poem: He barked. And I didn’t. The dog understands me anyway. Bees dance, chimpanzees laugh and cry, dolphins show their emotions with a wide range of squeaks and whistles, and they arrange sounds, which they give different frequency and volume, not only into words, but also into short sentences. All year round, you can hear trill, chirp, clap, cheep, and twitt, so pleasing to the ear.
Some time ago I heard for the first time about communication between plants, It was in the program Private life of plants by dr Tomasz Rożek on the radio Trójka. On the one hand, it is unusual, on the other, it should not surprise us. Man, in his ignorance, often thinks that he is the most perfect on this planet. And it is enough to ride a bike along the road through the forest. From the saddle you can clearly see the contents of the roadside ditch: cans, plastic trays, coffee cups, ice cream packaging, glass bottles and even whole bags of rubbish. The message is clear, albeit dark, and disillusioning.
Speaking about plants, their roots can tell each other about the environment and conditions in which they live, warn each other against drought, rainstorm or disease. Those in the ground send chemical signals to the above-ground roots, thereby causing physiological changes in the plant. Similar or even the same changes were observed in plants growing in the vicinity of those "endangered". They also, for example, close the pores on the leaf surfaces, which helps them avoid absorbing excess salt and losing water. They then altered their metabolism, and consequently did better when they themselves were in danger. Research shows that, for example, corn roots make sounds - cracks that warn of high temperature hazard. In addition to alarming signals, plants also transmit good news to each other - about favorable conditions for development, sun, water sources, or that it is already favorable time to bloom.
One of the passages I have underlined in the book ‘Primeval and Other Times ‘ by Olga Tokarczuk is: People think they live more intensely than animals, than plants, and especially than things. Animals sense that they live more intensely than plants and things. Plants dream that they live more intensely than things. But things last, and this lasting is more alive than anything else.
For are objects only what they seem to most of us? Especially the old ones - any family heirlooms, not necessarily ours- they have their aura and they seduce us with their smooth or rough structure. It is enough to touch and stroke them to feel old emotions,, "hear" the thoughts and stories that have been soaked into them like people have into photographs.
Misia from ‘Primeval’ discovered a drawer in the kitchen table, and in it the drawer there was the whole world.
What does the wooden floor that someone has walked on or scrubbed on their knees say, the linen tablecloth that someone has starched, the slandered cup that someone has put to their mouths, maybe smiling, or maybe more than one tear dripped into it? And a rusty typewriter in the attic? Maybe they are enchanted as in Beauty and the Beast? Mirrors, clocks, enchanted singing vessels, candlesticks?
In a moving story by Marcin Wicha, ‘Things I Didn't Throw Out’, the narrator organizes the items left by his deceased mother. He moves them, translates them, touches them. This process helps him recreate her image. We will not disappear without a trace. And even when we disappear, our things will remain, dusty barricades that will fight and protect the memory of us. After all, objects absorb people, store their emotions, fears, hopes, their secrets and their elusiveness. What is the "essence of things" really? Is their real value determined by utility, aesthetics, or rather by the emotional load, associations and references they cause in us? And the fact that we set off on this erroneous journey, enriching with meaning both the person who fantasizes and the subject of those fantasies,." Remo Bodei ‘On the life of things, the love of things’
Misa's daughter, returning to her family home after nineteen years and immediately leaving it, probably forever, takes with her a grinder that her grandfather had found far in the East during the war and took it because it smelled of security and home. A grinder with a porcelain belly, a neat drawer and a handle winds up a spiral of memories resounding like music in a concert hall or crickets on a June night.
Another thing is that many people tend, aspire or get out of hand, to over-accumulate and surround themselves with objects. This leads to communication chaos. How are they to hear themselves and their true needs then? Mass-produced items praise each other, shout over each other, tempt: Eat me - you'll be big. Bigger than the neighbor. How healthy is the approach of Snufkin from the Moomin Valley: Everything becomes difficult when you want to own things, carry them with you and own them. Now, I just look at them, and as I go away, I try to keep them in my mind.
The language that speaks to me the most is written in staves. The one that sounds like an alto, soprano, and preferably a racial hoarseness. a violin, guitar, trumpet or percussion. It's a universal speech that many people understand so well. Go where you hear people singing, they have good hearts there, remember that bad people never sing - my grandmother once wrote to me in my memorials.
You do not even need to understand the words of the song to make it move you, take you on a sentimental voyage over rough or calm waters. When Eddie Vedder performs Yellow Ledbetter, he does it sometimes so vaguely that people joke asking if there is an English version of the song (the fact that he could sing the phone book and still give you the chills is another matter). What's more, during concerts, he often changes the text a bit. Richard Krzyzanski wrote in the comments on YouTube: Heard this a million times..... still don't know what the hell he's saying..... Doesn't matter, I still blabber along with it at the top of my lungs in my car. Over 7,000 people agreed with him. Because the piece invariably captivates, stretches the soul like a harmony in all directions to the limit of endurance, to the days gone by, to now and to the uncertain future. There is longing and promise and helplessness and strength there.
Dave Grohl once stated that’s one of the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people and they'll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons.
Communication is also silence. And it can definitely be very telling. We "talk" in silence when we understand each other without words. In silence, you can hear the most. And yourself. Your thoughts, pulse and heart rate. Words of silence ... Do you know how much truth, good, beautiful lies in them? Why do you trample on silence, do you not hear or are you afraid? And you, why don't you listen when I'm silent to you? Words of silence ... Do you know how much good, true, beautiful love they have? (MP)
So many people often speak when there is no need to. They speak just to speak. Silence is awkward for them, they squirm as if they had pinworms and force words without rhyme or reason. Silence is too loud for them. It also happens that when we are silent, people around us perceive us as Hemulen did Snufkin: You seem extremely wise because you keep quiet.. Such Hemulens also like to fill this silence with their own stories: This encourages me to tell you about my boat. Communication is to a large extend the ability to listen.
Our tongue does not always say what the head thinks, let alone the heart. That is why we still have the body language, eyes or hands, Their brush is like a whisper. How much a hand on a hand says - its warmth spills out like oil in a frying pan. It sizzles. And when the pupils dilate and the irises of two people's eyes mix with each other ... is there anything else to add?
Something happened between their eyes, just once, and it's different now. Different shade of smile, different sound of greeting. Emerald clouds and cotton candy. Cashmere thoughts warm when she freezes at the stop while waiting for a Streetcar, yet unnamed, out of fear. (MP)
And the melody of the voice, its timbre? After all, in how many different ways one can say "good morning" or "goodbye".
So how come that even though having the best communication tools we still make so many mistakes? Which one of us has never felt like those tiny aliens in the video In this world by Moby when trying to convey a message? Hola, hello, hi – they are trying to make contact, but no one can see or hear them. There are so many understatements, self-exaltation, putting people out, humiliating, insulting, misunderstandings, tensions. Yet hatred, anger and curses are toads and snakes that come out of the mouth. Good, kind words are pearls, diamonds and flowers. This picture from the folk tale of Charles Perrault's Fairy stuck in my memory. If you have it in front of your eyes, it's easier to control yourself. You should never go to sleep or say goodbye in anger. It's not good when sharp, angular words hang ominously in the air above us. They can overwhelm.
We are definitely not separate islands. We are connected with other people, with the past and with nature, which, to be honest, can exist without us, but we cannot. Each of these elements has its own story, encoded in one way or another. We do not have an application to read them, however, as Socrates put it: Nature has given us two ears, two eyes, and but one tongue-to the end that we should hear and see more than we speak.
Who knows, maybe that's what squeaks in the grass. Maybe that’s what matters.

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04.12.2021,  Anna Canić