You can learn a lot from the sound of a press. When printing is going well, there's a steady rhythm to the printing process: the mechanical purr of the motor, the click of the pedal raising the grippers to take the paper, the hand-cranked movement of the printing cylinder moving over press bed to ink and print the form. I had one teacher tell me that you could tell if there was too much ink on press if the rollers sounded like sizzling bacon. Usually this steady rhythm forms a background undercurrent to whatever music or podcast is playing.
But tonight was different. I had gone straight to the studio from a three days of sitting silently, and I wasn't ready for that much stimulation. I had joined my wife, Sarah, at the Zen Center of Los Angeles for their year-end sesshin, a three-day silent meditation retreat. It was an incredible experience, being silent in the company of strangers for several days, both together and alone, both with yourself and outside of your usual routines and modes of thinking and behaving. And after three days of silent exploration, I wanted just a little more silence, together and alone, in the rhythm of it.