Pictured above is one of my very best friends—the “walking stick”. These curious fellows reside primarily in S.E. Asia, South America and Australia. A number of species also call the hardwood forests of the Ozark foothills and mountains of N.E. Oklahoma and Arkansas home.
The proper name for our brothers, the walking sticks, are Phasmatodea or Phasmids. They very dramatically in size from 1” to over 12”. My friends here in the Cherokee Nation are typically three to five inches in size. In many nations, they are kept as pets!
Phasmids are “camo” experts. Resultantly, they are pretty good at warding off potential predators. They are very good at blending-in with the bark of red and white oak trees. They also seem to like the color of our little house, “khaki”. Lots of them hang out on the siding and take on a khaki color. Hey, khaki is cool, right?
So…why do I like walking sticks? Why do I call them my friends? My reason is the simplest in the world! They don’t bother anything, nor do they make irritating noises of any kind. They just don’t. No mind-numbing blather emanates from walking sticks. They are peaceable creatures. They make me smile.
The fact of the matter is that I don’t care for human companionship very much. I crave quiet. Peace. Indeed, the psychiatric community are gravely concerned about my attitudes towards visitors, conversation, noise, loud music or talking, and so on. To them I say, “A pox on thee—away with thy pills, potions and noxious unguents”. Silence, to me, is sacred—some folks understand this, others don’t.
I enjoy the company of my wife—a human being who is literally my refreshment, my joy, my life. We spend many joyful hours together and never say a word. We cherish silence, quiet contemplation—she is never loud, boisterous or irritating. After 30+ years of joyous companionship, our lives are almost one. Its hard to know where one of us begins and the other stops.
I can spend hours observing the walking stick in complete joy. Sometimes, I make inquiry of them, but they refuse to engage in direct conversation. We are well-served by their wisdom. Talk, is terribly overrated.
Our world is outrageously loud and irritating. I would like to share a few remarks make by other observers on the subject:
Henry Ryecroft is among my favorites:
George Gissing, The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (Spring, XXIII):
Noises of wood and metal, clattering of wheels, banging of implements, jangling of bells—all such things are bad enough, but worse still is the clamorous human voice. Nothing on earth is more irritating to me than a bellow or scream of idiot mirth, nothing more hateful than a shout or yell of brutal anger. Were it possible, I would never again hear the utterance of a human tongue, save from those few who are dear to me.
Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (1944; rpt. New York: Perennial, 2004), pp. 218-219:
The twentieth century is, among other things, the Age of Noise. Physical noise, mental noise, and noise of desire—we hold history’s record for all of them. And no wonder, for all the resources of our almost miraculous technology have been thrown into the current assault against silence. The most popular and influential of all recent inventions, the radio, is nothing but a conduit through which pre-fabricated din can flow into our homes. And this din goes far deeper, of course, than the ear-drums. It penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions—news items, mutually irrelevent bits of information, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama that bring no catharsis, but merely create a craving for daily or even hourly emotional enemas. And where, as in most countries, the broadcasting stations support themselves by selling time to advertisers, the noise is carried from the ears, through the realms of phantasy, knowledge and feeling to the ego’s central core of wish and desire. Spoken or printed, broadcast over the ether or on wood-pulp, all advertising copy has but one purpose—to prevent the will from ever achieving silence.
I will have much more to say on this subject in the future.