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.