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On silence. The Flame. Monkey Man.

Luna // 13 Months // On silence

Luna is making me reconsider silence.

Most of the time when Luna and I are together, I'm a whirlwind of chatter, asking questions, narrating our days, and filling every quiet moment with sounds and games.

The day begins and I ask if she wants to get up from her crib. The day continues and I explain to her what we’re doing, what toys she can play with, what food she’ll be eating. The day ends and I tell her it’s time to wind down, and every step of the bedtime ritual.

Recently, as she toddled around the living room, I watched her with tired eyes, too exhausted to keep up my usual conversational patter.

She caught my gaze and smiled. I smiled back. We held this for a long time, and the silence we shared wasn't empty. It was brimming with a subtle understanding, a deep okayness, a sense of togetherness. Luna felt no need to disrupt it with needless noise. She was entirely at ease dwelling in the quiet spaces between words.

In that wordless moment, a realization clicked into place like a key turning in a rusty lock. For Luna, silence is natural. Comfortable. A space to inhabit rather than a void to fill. And I hadn’t truly experienced this with her for a full year.

When did I unlearn the skill of silence? At what point did I absorb the notion that quiet in the presence of others is a faux pas to be smoothed over with compulsive chatter? When did I start believing that a lull in conversation is something to fear rather than savor?

As adults, we work so hard to sidestep these moments. We launch into nervous monologues, we ask banal questions, we whip out our phones, anything to avoid the discomfort of wordlessness, and I was doing that to Luna without realizing it. In my twitchy evasion, I was missing out on the silence with Luna — and silence is an underrated gift.

Luna is becoming a talker herself. As I write this, she’s sitting with some toys muttering ‘oh-pen’ over and over as she connects and disconnects a plastic egg that splits in two. As Luna grows more verbose, which she undoubtedly will, I want to help preserve her capacity for contented quiet.

My job is not to fill her silences, but to honor them. So when I find myself automatically launching into adult chatter, I will try to pause and take a cue from Luna instead. Breathe into the quiet. Appreciate its nuance. Smile at my daughter and let my eyes communicate what my voice cannot.

I want to give silence back its voice, knowing that those moments can bring us closer than a thousand words ever could.

What I Read

Last month, I reached for a book in a category that’s a departure from my usual fare, picking up The Flame by Leonard Cohen, a collection of poetry published after the artist's death. This was a literal example of judging a book by its cover; I’ve never really listened to Cohen's music and rarely dive into poetry — but there was something about the book, and in learning that it was Cohen's final work, that compelled me to pick it up.

The poems span over half a century, from the 1950s up until his final years, and Cohen's inimitable voice (which even I as a non-listener can recognize) comes through clearly. In one poem he's talking casually of having an affair and losing his marriage, in the next he's grappling with existential questions and profound depths.

The unfiltered bluntness is jarring at first. But the more I sat with the poems, the more I appreciated the strange solace of their unflinching candor. Cohen's willingness to lay bare life's beauty and brutality in equal measure had a steadying effect, like a friend who always tells you the hardest truths you need to hear.

Stripped of melody, these ideas feel distilled to their essence. I put the book away weeks ago, but I've thought of it often. I think it's going to be a work I return to again and again, for the bittersweet comfort of keeping company with a voice capable of examining life with searing honesty. Cohen's words don't flinch away from the void, but they also don't forget to look for the light.

What I Watched

It had been ages since I ventured out to a movie theater.

The last film I caught was Barbie, a cultural phenomenon so steeped in references to Los Angeles that it felt almost mandatory to experience it on the big screen in LA. Since then, my movie-watching had been confined to the living room, until this week when I escaped the house to watch Monkey Man.

Last year I went on a binge of action films, devouring all four chapters of John Wick as well as 80s classics like Demolition Man and Robocop. Dev Patel's directorial debut fits right in with that crowd, and I'm glad I witnessed it before it inevitably gets chopped up into gifs and memes upon its digital release.

This is a revenge tale, but it's also a commentary on societal inequality, and it’s also an ode to outcasts and misfits finding their place, and it’s also a meditation on the hollowness of vengeance in the face of true purpose. For a movie that's mostly an unrelenting sequence of people getting beat up, it has surprising thematic heft.

Patel’s protagonist reminded me of Swayze's turn as Dalton in Road House. Both are men living by strict personal codes, unbound by society's rules and mores, so utterly committed to their beliefs as to become unstoppable forces. The best action films aren't just empty calories, instead they smuggle in social critiques, philosophical musings, and explorations of weighty themes under the guise of mayhem. They understand that even as we delight in spectacle, it can act in service of a story about forging identity and battling oppression.

Watch it on the biggest screen you can.

That’s all for now,

From the present moment,

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