Medellín, Colombia

April 21, 2019

The Silent Semana

I'm sitting here with some coffee, my balcony open to the Medellín valley, and engulfed by the silence pouring in around me.

Today is the end of Santa Semana here in Colombia - holy week - and for the past week, I could feel the pace of the city slow down. Schools closed. Shops opened limited hours. Everyone taking a little time off to be with family and friends. To be not busy.

As I travel, I'm struck by how every culture finds these same rituals. Whether official or not, almost every place has at least a week or two each year where things just pause.

Les Vacances in France. The week between Christmas and New Year in the US (and on through mid-January in New Zealand.) The week around Songkran in Thailand. Golden week in Japan.

Everywhere, it seems, we find a way to collectively say, "Hey, let's all just stop for a bit. Enjoy the people we love. See what our cities sound like without all that bustle."

Here looking out, with only the sound of the birds flitting from treetop to treetop - no cars, no speakers booming, no internal combustion anything - I'm taken back to the sound of this valley a thousand, ten thousand years ago.

Reminded of how long it's sounded this way. How short a time we've been loud. How recently all that noise, all those echoes against the landscape really began. A hundred, maybe two hundred years - against a landscape etched out by eons of raindrops.

This small. This brief.

Have a great week,

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I read all week was a re-read of Wendy Mnookin's amazing poetry. "This small. This brief." is taken directly from her wonderful poem "The River Scrapes Against Night", from this book. You can also read lots more of her poetry on that site. Enjoy. :)

p.p.s. I mentioned last week that this week's letter would be coming from a new system. I'm just testing the new one on myself for this week, but if you're subscribed, your email will be from the new system next week. So, please keep an eye out next Sunday. Even if it's not in your inbox, there will be a letter waiting. :)

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