Like many, like most I assume, Sundays are my favorite days. The eerie silence that first weighs on you with awkwardness and then picks you up, slowly, like a buoyant body ten feet below a salty sea.
The still silence of Sunday morning has the opposite effect of the distant roar of schoolyard playgrounds. The laughter, screams, and squeals of schoolchildren are immediately pleasing to the ears. Our response is somewhere deeper than the eardrum – that aggregate clamor of young emotional outbursts reminds us of a more innocent time; the sort of inhibition which these days we arrive at only after our eighth round at an overpriced club. But after an hour of those shouts, screams, and shrieks we beg for reprieve. The jealousy and nostalgia are gone. Their manic reactions to third grade gossip and dodge ball grate on us. We slam shut the windowsill.
But silent Sundays are different. We walk outside the front door and something has changed. Something is wrong. The decibels of modern life have yielded to something both unfamiliar and natural. The muffled humming of car engines, the subconscious tumult of distant industry, the buzzing of UV lights and computer fans: it is all gone. A penny dropped to the sidewalk rings clearly, reclaiming its natural properties from the mute of noise-polluted modernity.
To have such clear perception of so few events may sound like a blessing. But it produces anxiety. We reach for our nearest distraction. The cell phone. The iPod. The car stereo.
Sundays are my favorite days because I feel that automatic pull toward distraction. And because, more often than not, I resist it. Not for the entire day, but for the first hour or so of my morning walk. My eyes and ears and footsteps are focused entirely on what surrounds me. My imagination on what might lay beyond. To be able to focus so clearly on everything outside my six feet of meat and bones is a gift that comes only one day a week. Monday through Saturday is overload, filtering, survival, prioritizing, organizing, re-organizing. Sunday, Sunday just is.
Place. For a long time now I’ve been meaning to write a blog post on place and how we form our perceptions of different places. For example, in a few days I’ll be heading down to Medellín, Colombia. Most people in the United Sates, it seems, have shaped their perception of Medellín based on a single person and a single episode of a TV show. That person is Pablo Escobar and that TV show is Entourage. (I’ve never seen the episode of Entourage that mentions Medellín so I don’t really know what they’re talking about.)
With the exception of Prague, this trip to Zagreb is the first time I’ve set foot in the former Soviet Union and yet the general environment of the city and the character of its people have met a lot of my expectations. Most of my perceptions of Eastern Europe come from three different sources: Global Voices, Evgeny, and Veronica. Veronica’s Flickr feed is especially wonderful at conveying the idiosyncrasies of post-Soviet life.
So after my hour of Sunday silence I figured I’d try my own hand at conveying the realities of Zagreb. The music is provided by Mr. Tom Evergreen who plays every weekend morning in front of Zagreb’s St. Mark Cathedral. You can listen to the first track of his album Zagreb: Tocno U Podne while flipping through the slideshow below. I hope it conveys some of the Sunday morning rhapsody that I felt.