Saturday, July 14, 2007

Shhhh!

I was reading this beautiful piece of fiction over at Paisley's in which the protagonist was called Silence and I got to thinking about silence and how scared we are of it - how deafening it can be, if we don't know how to recognize its quiet beauty.

We are so used to noise that silence has started to mean that you don't have anything valuable to say. People feel the need to fill the gap, and if someone becomes quiet while talking to us we become nervous and start filling the blanks with jargon. I've noticed, especially in a group, that if everyone suddenly becomes quiet someone will always begin talking, even if it has nothing to do with the conversation. In fact in our hurry to fill the silence we start thinking of topics beforehand in our head so that we'll have a fallback plan if the situation comes to that.

We feel that until we call attention to ourselves through our words, we won't have a chance to be noticed or a chance to contribute. This happens the most in interpersonal relationships, with your husband or friend or partner. If they unburden themselves to you and tell you of some problem they might be having, you immediately start thinking of the solution you need to offer and imparting your advice - when maybe sometimes all they really want you to do is listen. To be able to have something to 'insightful' to say, sometimes we forget to even listen.

And this extends to inner silence as well, we are afraid that if we let our mind achieve stillness, we'll be forced to look into issues that we don't want to deal with. So we fill our head with million thoughts, they continually chase each other resulting in a cacophony of sound - we forget that a symphony needs rest, patches of silence to accentuate the notes in between to elevate them... to let them shine.

The simple fact is that silence troubles us and we don't know how to deal with it [me being one such person]

When strangely enough, it is actually the testament to the strongest of relationships. If you can share silence with someone it means you are so close that you don't words to bridge the distance!

41 comments:

paisley said...

uh oh.... does the tv count????
i am never without it.. i never watch it,,, but it is on my tcm playing me classic movies 24/7/365.. i even leave it on for the dogs....

i do know what you mean,, that is a definite milestone in a relationship, shared silence.. not the silent treatment,, or the silence of inner rage... but the shared solitude of silence...

HollyGL said...

I understand what you mean about being in a group. Especially if the group is in the process of trying to create some sort of cohesiveness. If they are old friends, the silence doesn't usually seem as unnatural, I don't think.

Sometimes it is impossible for me to quiet my mind completely, and sometimes, though rarely, I can do it pretty much at will.

Really interesting topic, Random.

Zakman said...

Just about two decades ago (yeah, when the dinosaurs were still roaming the Earth), I wrote some loose poetry about a homeless girl for the campus magazine. It had the following:

Do you hear
the silence in my scream
and the scream in my silence


You're right: silence speaks.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

i believe that's why sarge and i get along so well, the silence is golden...

smiles, bee

Random Magus said...

paisley: I think that's why I like reading you can be silent and just absorb, or the company of old friends or when hubby and I are just hanging out studying or reading.

hollygl: Thats the best thing about old friends, you've done the building up bit and then silence is easy as the other person won't think you're ignoring them or are uninterested in them

Zakman: That's really evocative!

Random Magus said...

Empress Bee (of the High Sea): Until you can be silent with someone you can't live with them!

Jeff said...

I am being silent...

Random Magus said...

Jeff: Hey... writing is not counted here! This is where we do communicate with a silence of sorts. Don't we?

Blur Ting said...

So very true! When I'm with CH, we are so comfortable with silence, there's no need to fill the gap.

Josie Two Shoes said...

Well said, Amber, and absolutely true! Some of the best times I've had with others was just being close when no words were said. And you are right that often we, or friends or partners, just want someone to listen and care, not someone to fix it. That even happens in blogging, every well-meaning friend rushes in with suggestions. We blog because we want someone to listen! I love quiet. My house has been quiet all day, except for the click of computer keys, and the air blowing thru the AC vents. Many cannot live without the sound of tv and music. To me silence is sometimes much nicer... it is the sound of peace.

The Real Mother Hen said...

Well said Random.
I once did a test to count how many words I say in a day. Well, there were too many words to be counted of course :(

Titania Starlight said...

I love silence. When meditating I put plugs in my ears so as not to be distracted by sound. Great post! I give it a two thumbs up.

Ricardo said...

Very true. Some of life's most revealing and inspiring moments reveal themselves in silence. If we allow our minds to slow down, we can pick up on so many nuances. These things are wonderful teachers. Being able to be in silence with someone does indeed show a deeper bond and a trust and comfort level that's not common.

meleah rebeccah said...

I need silence, and when I finally get silence, I ruin it with noise.

What a great post. I think I need some silence soon. There is alot in my head, my heart, my life, that I could probably work out, if only I was quiet long enough for the answers to come to me......

Epimenides said...

I enjoy the silence in the sence that I enjoy the the lack of speech! I turn the music on, lie on my back and enjoy the sounds of my daydreams!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Silence seems to me iincreasingly hard to find nowadays.

Random Magus said...

Blur ting: I think the need to fill the gaps is when you feel that if you don't say anything 'interesting' the other person will lose interest and when you already have reassurance of being together then you can just let yourself relax and be and enjoy the silence.

Josie Two Shoes: I have to sleep in dead quiet and dark...if there is a ticking clock I go mad. Its another story that my husband snores ;)
Probably thats why I am up all night :)

the real mother hen: The funny thing about me is that I hate it when the Tv is loud or the music in the car is loud it disturbs my balance [I think I might have some problems with my eardrums - I don't know] yet I talk sooo much, not with strangers, but with people I am comfortable with I don't shut up :(

Random Magus said...

Titania: I try to mediate and thats when it happens - all thoughts rush in my head I remember something urgent to do - same thing when I pray.

ricardo: I think then you start communicating on different level there have been so many times, when you're out and someone says something you at you're friends and known what the other is thinking. I think communication shifts into another gear if you allow silence to be comfortable

meleah: I need it in my head so much

Random Magus said...

Epimenides: When around new people I don't talk that much except when I'm in one of my social moods then I become a bit frenetic

Jean-Luc Picard: You get so used to the sound of cars, the noise outside that when its totally quiet it seems a bit strange

Jod{i} said...

I feel silence can be that gage..if you can last an evening of silence with the one you love...and not feel uncomfortable...then the path is a lot more clearer...

*sidenote: Are you entering Judith contest? Just a note, in the Linky thing, place your Entry post link...If you would, so she and her judges can peruse and have it...
Makes it easier to find...

Peace

surjit said...

"Silence....A great art of conversation.."

"Silence is the most powerful weapon of scorn..."
Best wishes.

Random Magus said...

jod{i}: I did thanks for pointing out such a great site

Surjit: It is indeed

insanity-suits-me (Dawn) said...

Your post reminded me so much of Simon and Garfunkel...

"Hello darkness, my old friend,
Ive come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence."

tigergirl said...

silence is just fine with me, I have a tendency to daydream at inappropriate times and forget that someone is actually talking to me. I remember once when I was really tired some girls in a hostel were trying to talk to me, I answered their questions and zoned out - later on my (now ex) bf said how I'd made it obvious that I thought they were idiots because I'd ignored them - I didn't even realise it, I thought the conversation was over! Usually all you can hear at our place is birds (during the day), possums and cooking sounds (at night). No TV, haven't managed to get a stereo yet and we read a lot. Of course, sometimes I'm mucking around with power tools ..........

Random Magus said...

Insanity suits me: I cannot tell you how much I love that song

Tigergirl: This happens to me when I'm reading I actually unconsciously block out sounds

JYankee said...

I never used to but as I get older I like silence...quite impossible now with a 5 yr old!!!:(

Seiche said...

... we are afraid that if we let our mind achieve stillness, we'll be forced to look into issues that we don't want to deal with.

Bingo! That's me right there.

If you can share silence with someone it means you are so close that you don't words to bridge the distance!

But on th flip side, I'm comfortable in silence with my wife. We have 'silent conversations' all the time, consisting of nothing but casual touches. My fingers brush her arm; her hand would rest on the back of my neck. Under the table our knees would bump and we’d make quick eye contact. It's a choreography of nonverbal messages, and sometimes says more than any conversation could.

Very well said.

Bobby Revell said...

We need be able to relax simply with ourselves when alone and be comfortable. Like I always told my parents growing up, if they had something important to say, to please write it down - especially when I'm watching Gilligan's Island! I couldn't resist:) Relaxing the mind is easier said than done!

rp said...

I love this post. Noise to me is a huge stressor. A TV too loud, stereo too loud, invasive street noise, people noise. ARGH. And I live in urban setting. I should have learned years ago how to tune sound out, but never did. For me that kind of din, even my beloved son's "Mommy, Mommy" that yanks me out of my own thoughts, when I am not careful, can produce a very crabby response at being so pulled.

My husband and I have had moments of complete silence that made others quite uncomfortable--either because the passion sparked, or because we've had a HUGE argument in the space of a split second.

dicatae said...

Silence is a powerful tool, and when wielded incautiously, a hurtful one. I know I need to go dark sometimes, I need to shut the f$ck up and listen to the voices, but when the silence comes from another person, unexpectedly, it can leave people hurt and confused.

My goal today is to be able to recognize when I need to curl up in the cave, spin the lid off of the bottle and crank up some music. If I can recognize it, I can tell the people who'd give a shit to not worry... it's not about them, it's about putting the threads of sanity back into place.

David said...

I wouldn't know...I find it almost impossible to shut up. ;)

Mark said...

Very wise! Yes, we have been brought in a very noisy society where silence is looked upon as negative. You are so right, silence shared between two people can be a very powerful thing.

the domestic minx said...

I know I am completely comfortable and contented with someone when I, or they, do not feel it necessary to fill the silence with senseless chatter.
There is no pregnant pause - it simply is, deliciously noise free..

Goldy said...

When I am actually trying to take care of myself I incorporate silence into my life. This can involve "getting away" via a hike or some other "isolated" activity... but the best is when I silence my mind... I can only do this through meditation.

Michelle said...

Nice one and very true about sharing silence with someone sahowing how close you really are. :-)

Random Magus said...

JYankee: Your 5 year old is really adorable.. but I know what you mean whenever I go home my nephews [who are the cutest, naughtiest little boys ever] are creating havoc from the moment they wake up to the times they sleep.

Seiche: The strange thing is when I'm alone I can stay in complete silence without the television or radio or anything, its just sometimes when I'm with people I don't shut up. Like in class I think I'm the most vocal student. And I have to have the last word that is the worst habit anyone an have

Bobby Revell:
For a while I tried this with my husband whenever we had a fight [we both have hot tempers] I'd just send a huge text message afterwards to say why I thought he's being a jerk. It was a much better way to let off the steam

rp:
The funny thing is while in the car or home I can't stand the television or radio too loud it stresses me out yet I'm a total city girl I just can't imagine living in anywhere else. Weird

dicatae:
Silence is powerful tool which sends mixed messages. We can end up hurting and confusing others with our silence and get hurt by theirs but we have to realize that its not always about us.

Random Magus said...

David:
It's okay it's pretty tough for me as well ;)

Mark:
We've been brought up in a noisy society and we've been brought up to think that until we can talk and convince everybody of our greatness we won't be successful. We've been taught to be nervous of silence and mistrust it

the domestic minx:
And that's shared with perhaps 10 people in your life if you're lucky!

Goldy:
I envy people who can meditate, I try but I'm too impatient and my mind is too crowded for that. I definitely need to throw out some stuff and spring clean my mind!

Michelle:
Whether it's your partner in life or your best friend when you know each other really well you sort of know what the other is thinking, communication, than has many other avenues.

Jeff said...

There is a belief that hell is not about fire and brimstone, but about emptiness and darkness. This little piece on silence illustrates that belief makes sense.

Mariuca said...

"If they unburden themselves to you and tell you of some problem they might be having, you immediately start thinking of the solution you need to offer and imparting your advice - when maybe sometimes all they really want you to do is listen."

Hi Amber, this is exactly what I went through a few weeks back. Hubby said it to me then. Your article made me realize the sense in it even more, thanks!

Random Magus said...

Jeff:
Faced with the prospects of battling our inner demons without any distractions - seems a scary prospect.

Mariuca: I keep trying to remind myself of it when the urge to advice becomes difficult to control

gul said...

wow!! such a thot provokin piece!! luved it :)