I’ll be the first to admit that I hate silence. I come home from school and the first thing I do is turn up my music or burst into a song or rap about celery, but I’m starting to see the beauty in silence.
In choir we do this exercise where our student teacher says one thing and we repeat it back while he’s saying something else at the same time and then we have to repeat that as he says something new. So essentially you are listening and speaking at the same time. It’s a pretty difficult thing because you’re trying to concentrate on two very different things at one time, and I realized the other day that this exercise is life. We’re constantly trying to do something while keeping up with the next thing at the same time. When I’m doing that exercise I often mess up what I am saying because I am so focused on what it is that I will have to do next. Concentrating on making noise and hearing noise and making sense of it all at the same time. I often fail in the present because I’m worried about what I’m going to do in the future. I’m constantly observing and taking place in a noise of some sort, whether that’s blasting music, talking, playing the piano, watching TV, reading a book, or clicking a pen.
So, why do I hate silence so much? Why do we as a culture hate silence so much? We can’t shop in silence, we can’t drive in silence, we can’t walk in silence, we can’t eat in silence, we can’t even sleep in silence (maybe that’s just me. I’ve always had to sleep with a fan on so that a serial killer couldn’t whisper in my ear as I slept, weird I know) We’re constantly flooding our world with a constant noise that drowns out the sound of our own thinking.
Silence is really revealing. In silence there is nothing to do but sit there and listen. To reflect on yourself. In silence we often realize how small and insignificant we are. When we’re silent we realize that even if we did speak, there would be no one to hear us. When we’re silent we have to face the music of our conscience. Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes it makes us want to hide. You’re so much more aware of when you’ve done something wrong when it’s silent. I’ll go back to a choir analogy. When you’re singing in a large group of people and suddenly your voice cracks and you make a funny sound, chances are no one is going to hear you. When you are standing on a stage, spot light on you, singing a Capella and your voice cracks and you make a funny sound, everyone is aware of it. When we screw up within the safety of our noise, we can get by with only the person in front of us noticing that our voice cracked. But when it’s silent we notice all the things that we have screwed up, and that hurts.
I think that deep down we’re all aware of how messed up we are. Of how not right we are. How not normal we are. But then there is the noise, and in that noise everyone is messed up, and everyone is not right, and our collective not-normal-ness makes us feel normal. That’s why we love songs about heartbreak, and songs about bitterness, songs about deep-seated anger; they make our non-normal-ness normal. So we hold on to that noise, and we hide in it, and we find the noise that fits us and fits our style or non-normal-ness and we camp out there. Our noise is made up of the people we hang out with, the music we listen to, the books we read, the television we watch, the friends we text, the attractive British Youtubers that we follow so creepily, the blogs we read, and the fans we turn on to avoid the serial killers.
But have you ever noticed how people respect silence? When you walk into a store and there is no background music, and there is no one talking what do you do? You remain silent. When a room falls silent we sit there in anticipation. When the final note of the symphony is played we hang in the awe of that silence. When we walk through an empty field, we simply observe. It’s as though we know. We know that silence is not bad, we know that there is something refreshing about escaping the noise, about hearing the birds and feeling the wind. But how long does that last? A minute? Maybe 10? Or maybe just 30 seconds.
A room gets too silent and people start whispering, or we walk into a quiet store and pull out our phones to make us feel less alone. Hmmmm… maybe it’s the alone factor. I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you a definite reason why we’re all so afraid of silence. I know why I am, and I think we all have our own reasons for avoiding that silence.
I’m seeing the beauty in silence. It’s so hard to listen and speak at the same time. And I need to do more listening in my life. I talk a lot. I’m good at it, and I like it. But today I sat in the sunshine and listened to the birds sing and realized that it was just wonderful to be alive, and be in the world. Not be filling it with more noise of my own, but just listening in anticipation. I don’t know what I was waiting for, (I’m not usually a very good wait-er,) but I got up and went inside feeling refreshed.
Random Fact of the Day- Swearing helps reduce pain. SERIOUSLY? I’m willing to bet that it’s an mental thing.
Mission of the Day- Listen.
PS- I GOT A JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And it’s way nicer than the one I actually applied for. The woman I interviewed with said that she had all the positions filled so she called a guy who works in the Circular dining room and said that I was a perfect fit for the job and that he needed to offer me a position. So…. wow… I’m feeling pretty good about myself right now. I’m just really really happy with life. It’s not perfect, but it sure is beautiful.