Nothing to Say

Jan15.2The wooden gate marks a beat with no beat. The wind is winning my attention. The rain is pulsing out a rhythm. It’s Tuesday and although the world outside my window is all wetness, I just saw a bee (or what looked like a bee) fly by.

The rain moves at a slant, right to left, and I sit with the sense that I’m making it up as I go along. A leaf dances up the roof then down and then the air takes it away from my line of sight.

I think about Karen Maezen Miller’s Facebook post this morning, which said something like this: if you have nothing to say, how about not saying it? And I’ve mangled her words but it’s OK, because Bach is playing all around me and the wind adds in a tune no one can hum.

A friend texted me this weekend and said she shared one of my favorite phrases with someone she knows. It’s not my phrase. I stole it from Jane, who most likely captured it from somewhere else. It’s a thought older than me and one that took me forever to believe. It goes something like this: people are pretty good at saving themselves.

I don’t claim to have stepped fulling into this idea, but I do know that when Jane said this to me, it was the first time I really heard it. Who knows how long the world had been trying to teach me this phrase? People are pretty good at saving themselves.

Maybe I couldn’t believe it until I gave myself credit for saving myself. Maybe I’ve given myself credit for saving myself before, but maybe I was pissed when I said it. I wanted someone to save me, god damn it!

You have to save, save yourself.

There’s a poem that used to play on repeat in my head. It went something like this: No one’s going to do it for you, you have to save, save yourself. And now I’ve claimed a version words by an author who I can’t recall. But we sit with each other when we long for saving, and if we are lucky, sometimes the person who sits across from us is silent.

Yes, I read about this exact idea in Oprah last night while I ate my dinner. Martha Beck writes that the best way to help someone is to “hang around, being healthy and stable. …You must remain cheerfully unconcerned as your loved one enters Hell.”

Or, as a wise sibling has been overheard saying, “This is not your death.”

Oy, the wind, the rain, the deadlines I’m ignoring, they bring me right to death.

I’m no Martha Beck. I’m no savior except for myself. I’ve been the loudest, most unhelpful friend. The day my friend Jane said “People are pretty good at saving themselves,” I looked at her with so much surprise on my face. Did my jaw fall down as my mouth popped open?


You have to save, save yourself. Still, the saying I have hanging on my wall still stands. “Come and sit a spell with me. My home is warm and my friendship’s free.”

The lights keep blinking on and off as I wonder how long the power will hold. The rain still slants downward from right to left and the gate creaks alongside the sound of the wind. Bach adds aching cello music to the noise created by today’s weather. I have nothing to say even as I said it with so many words right here.

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