I was thinking about silence last night. It’s an odd thing to think about because on the face of it, it seems like nothing. But it really isn’t. It’s a big something. It’s like a promise of what could be. As a writer, I have always enjoyed being alone. I like to think, thinking, pondering, considering, imaginging. All of these things are solidary actions.

Though, I’ve been able to do them in crowded rooms, noisy bars, on busses, at work, wherever – because somewhere along the line I’ve learned to create a bubble of silence in my own head, my own space. It produces an interesting sensation, almost like floating and looking out at what is or isn’t happening around you. All of that is distant and the silence settles in.

I know that some people don’t like silence. They hurry to fill it up with words, sounds, music, televisions, aimless action, in order to avoid it or hide from it. I think that’s a shame. I think that they are missing out on something. The opportunity to hear who they are. To see what they think. To know what they feel.

Someone much smarter than I said, “A person is only as valuable as they can serve others.” I agree. But I also think that one can’t serve others, bring joy, happiness, help or peace to others if they cannot bring it to themselves. And that to do that for yourself, you need that silence. That time with just you. Not to become self-absorbed or create a nifty little altar to the greatness of you – but know yourself, your beliefs, what’s important. It’s very revitalizing to take the time. Even (or maybe especially) if you don’t have it to take.

That television will be re-run again, that ballgame will be written about in the sports page tomorrow, that cheeseburger will have another one just like it the next time you go through the drive-thru.

So next time you find yourself getting nervous by the silence around you, whether you are in a room alone or standing on an overcrowded train platform – reach out and grab it for yourself. Hang onto it. Let it take over for a minute. You may learn something you never knew about you before. And it might make all the difference.

That’s what my silence is like, what’s yours like?


PS: There is an excellent post on this topic here. I highly recommend it.

13 thoughts on “Silence

  1. I am envious that you have that “bubble” when needed. I have that silence and golden opportunity for day dreaming, analyzing, fantasizing, sorting and linking when I am alone but have great difficulty tuning PEOPLE out in general. I am not a multi-task’n kinda gal. I love to concentrate all my efforts (brain power) on one project, give it my all, make it great, and move on. When I have time with myself, I feel like I can analyze what has happened around me and grow from it. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had the pleasure to know silence, to enjoy their own thoughts, and relish in the quiet? I think it’s just the break we all need in these busy times. I also love being with someone and you don’t feel the need to talk and visa versa; sometimes there are NO words.

    Hey Bella,
    Yeah, I love being with friends who you don’t have to keep the dialogue going with at every moment. The comfortable silence. The long drive without a word between you, yet you’re still really connected. Fantastic.


  2. I love silence. I miss it.
    Sometimes, on rare occasions when I do not have the kids with me in the car, I will pull off, turn off the radio, and sit. Let my mind wander.
    I wish I had more time for it.

    I used to do that too – but I would just sit in the parking lot in my car and not move. Sometimes for quite a while. Recharge the ol’ batteries.


  3. Yes, love it, totally agree. I’m not so good at writing around a lot of noise though, and it’s something I’d like to change – it seems like a downfall somehow! 🙂
    But my meditations are sacred to me because of how much I grow from them and how connected I feel to everything and everyone and all the words dancing around inside my head.
    Your silence sounds perfectly wonderful to me.

    Hi Simonne,
    I don’t know why I can write, much less think while in a crowd – it could be that I was raised in a family that was always making this noise or that and room/privacy was at a premimum. Although, it’s easier to do in a roomful of strangers, like a cafe or bar because no one is paying attention to you – try that. 😉


  4. i need noise and action to write. Cacophony is a veritable feast of inspiration. But to actually sit and put words down, i need to be alone and i need complete and utter quiet.
    Television irritates me. i do love music but i tend to listen to that with melodic voices or instrumentals. i have lots of time each day to enjoy noiselessness- being in the country now. Silence is necessary to maintain- for me, at least. Silence is a space in which to replenish myself.
    Good thoughts here, Chica. i appreciate the peek into your Annie-ness.

    Hey Christine,
    I understand what you mean. Sometimes you need to be so totally alone with your thoughts with no noise whatsoever. I love those moments, very much. I envy you, your country life. I think I long for it sometimes, then I wonder on Earth I’d do with myself.

    Oh no, my Annie-ness is showing? Anytime, though I don’t know how much there is to see.



  5. I love silence. I don’t get it enough with an 8 year old and a hubby that “hurry to fill it up with words, sounds, music, televisions, aimless action, in order to avoid it or hide from it.”
    Just yesterday, they both took a nap. At the same freaking time. I was in awe. Turn the tv off, and just sit. And do nothing. It was nice.

    You know, Red – it is nice when it all goes quiet. I love writing really late at night when no one is awake. It’s like I have the world all to myself. It’s wonderful.


  6. Hi, WC.
    I agree completely with the value of silence for everyone. I work with a Buddhist priest, and most people (especially the very antsy ones) find him very unnerving because of his ability to do exactly what you’re describing above. He can just sit there and look at you, calmly and with this sort of deep pool of dark water in his eyes. I envy his calm. It reminds me of, I think, passage number 13 in the Tao te Ching. The poem talks about a wheel and the spokes, but points out that the hub, the center, is never spinning. It’s lack of movement (a silence of sorts) is what allows for the movement of the other parts. As writers, especially, I hope our words come from silence, from something beyond the din of our day to day lives. Not like high priests and priestesses of the written word or anything like that, but as people who can take the five minutes to breathe, to move into our own hub and watch and experience whatever happens. I will take your advice regarding grabbing the silence next time a hurried instant shoves me for the next distraction. It’s a good reminder for all of us. Thanks for the post, WC; I appreciate the time you took to remind us!

    Hey Puddlehead,
    I have to tell you, I feel funny calling someone as thoughtful as you obviously are, by that name. I like your analogy – it’s a good one and I think it fits nicely. Yes, do grab some of that silence for yourself – it really is everywhere for the taking. I think sometimes, we just don’t see it.


  7. I prefer silence to people sometimes. Not just on days I have headaches. It’s so darn peaceful to just sit in a comfy chair and stare into space for a while.

    Well DT, thinkers are like that. They like being alone with their thoughts. I think they need it too. Unfortunately, sometimes others don’t quite get that about us, huh?


  8. Nice post Annie, I was watching you in your bubble.
    I still find it strange that the silence seems to be coming from the head and silencing the chatter going on in there. First turn off the radio and then enjoy the silence. But still sitting next to the radio that can pop back on any minute.
    It would be nice if silence can originate from the heart. Then I would be hearing the wooshing sound of the blood being pumped around. Maybe as well since I will fall asleep probably in the silence. And as a matter of fact, I often do.

    Thanks, Miriam. I’m glad you could see me in my bubble.

    You know, I was thinking that maybe the silence actually just comes from us – our core, so to speak – and we just happen to be in our heads at the time. Could be.


  9. “Silence is golden..” Maybe it’s the whole concept that gold is worth something and expensive?
    Love me!

    You may be right Jane. I should look that up and see how it all started.


  10. Being completely alone is very nice, but I do like the feeling of being in a bubble while walking through various parts of life, too.
    It’s like mentally taking a few steps back in order to gain a better view of what’s truly going on. I watch the small things that would normally pass unnoticed, listen to more than the worlds being spoken, and start playing with sentences in my mind to try and describe what it is I’m feeling, thinking, or observing more clearly.
    Although, I love spending time with family and friends, going out to the movies, playing cards, or laughing until morning, I feel more alive while I’m in my bubble. I might not feel as much apart of what’s going, but because I was wide awake I didn’t just pass by that small sliver of life in a hurry — I watched, listened, tasted and touched it.

    Hey Kelsey,
    I know just what you mean – about feeling more alive in the bubble. Maybe that’s when we’re in our creative zone. That time and space when it’s us and pure imagination. I think so, anyway. Great comments.


  11. I agree silence is key, it is the silence between the notes that make the music. It is the silence between the words which makes speech.
    Silence is a wonderful treasure. As you said, many shun silence for they fear they may have to aknowledge who they are and for many that is a scary proposition.

    True. I wonder too, if because of the way society has become so plugged in that we get startled when the noise goes off.


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