Before leaving Friendz I met James, a burly bald British security worker from London. James saw me close my eyes for a few minutes in the hostel and struck up a conversation about meditation. Turns out we were both headed to Dharma Medinni for the same meditation course.
Later on at the bus station I met Pete, an Aruban born, Dutch raised quadra-lingual rapper, jazz singer, and stand up comic. Apparently Pete has had a booming career touring over 30 countries under the artist name of Pete Philly. Pete talked my ear off on the way to the retreat about everything from art, culture and music to meditation and his adrenals. He is extremely brilliant and knowledge just pops out of his mouth. And keeps popping. I wondered how he would do during 10 days of silence. He seemed to know that all his verbosity was coming from a wounded place and was excited to immerse himself in quiet.
Pete, James, and I formed a nice connection over dinner before the retreat started. It was quite ironic that in only a few minutes time we would no longer be talking or even making eye contact for ten days.
Once the retreat started I kept checking in on how they were doing. Pete had never meditated before and at first had quite a hard time getting comfortable, but James quickly took to sitting like a mountain.
Coming out of the retreat they were the first people I spoke to. It was clear all three of us had been moved and reached into deep parts of ourselves. We struggled with coming back out again in a way that felt real. After all, our vows of silence were not to prohibit talking, but to prohibit lying. After 10 days of silence it was clear that most of our talk failed to emenate from a place of real truth.
Making these connections has been very special. Knowing someone so fleetingly yet so deeply seems to transcend life’s normal restrictions. It is sad to leave them but I know that in whatever brief way we have touched each others’ lives there has been real meaning, and we take that with us.