Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Sounds of Silence

Silence is a peculiar animal…sometimes the epitome of peacefulness, sometimes unbearably deafening. Just been musing on it recently in it’s various incarnations…so let me interrupt yours a bit with some random thoughts written out loud:

They say that just before dawn there’s a moment of complete silence where both the last singers of the night and the first of the day stop as though holding their breath, waiting to see if the sun will indeed come again. I’ve gotten up early sometimes, just to hear that silence, and I think I have, but then again, maybe I just wanted to believe.
Not quite dawn, but I imagine if in a glider, there'd be a beautiful silence - Pitons from LIAT
Recently, taking new Yoga classes from Jill at Yoga on the Bay, I’ve come closer to being able to silence my mind, but closer also, I think, to understanding that ‘silencing’ your mind doesn’t mean ceasing to hear everything, it about silencing the noise.

A few nights ago, I came home from dinner with friends and as I got out of the car, I was assaulted with the singing of crickets and tree frogs in the trees…they’re making a lot of noise outside right now as I type…but if I don’t think about them, their noise fades into the ‘silence’ of the night and I’ll sleep soundly through their orchestra. I never noticed they were noisy until a guest, Caroline, from the UK told me she had a lousy night because she couldn’t sleep over the noise…I had no idea at all what she was on about until she explained…later that night, I ‘heard’ them for the first time.

Here they are for your listening pleasure:

I can sleep through the hum of my ceiling fan far easier than through the silence without it…

“People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening”
Simon and Garfunkel’s famous song …. What do these words mean to you?

Silence is given many personas;

Silence is golden, maybe, but not if you need an answer…

Silence means consent – not very often in my book, but how will anyone really know if you don’t say?

Silence speaks volumes – yes, it does, but are those volumes intelligible? Not really, even when you ‘know’ someone, you’re still left guessing…

A quick search on ‘Silence sayings’ yielded a cacophony of silence sayings…. Here are some that made me think:

“In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood.” Henry David Thoreau

It is romantic to believe we understand each other enough, have wisdom enough to read another’s silence…but I think Mr. Thoreau has a much more realistic take on it here... spoken and especially, written words, can be terribly misunderstood. Silence though, what’s there really, to understand? Silence, misinterpreted can never be explained by silence, only by words…

Hmm, a thought...Are written words louder than spoken words? Which speaks clearer? For me a voice and face are part of understanding speech…but maybe that’s what distinguishes a great writer from an ok one – the ability to illuminate written words with the power of spoken expression…

“The tree of silence bears the fruit of peace” Arabian Proverb

Hold your tongue and think before you speak! That’s the funny thing isn’t it – while silence can’t say anything with absolute certainty…there are times when it would have said your true feelings so much better than the words blurted out in hurt or anger…those ones tend to echo endlessly no matter how much you try to silence them with more words and apologies!

“I have often regretted my speech, never my silence” Publilius Syrus

I guess he always spoke up when he needed to…I don’t know about you, but I’ve regretted my silence once or twice! Most painfully when someone who cares doesn’t get to understand because I didn’t, or couldn’t say… much less drastically when offered something or needing something and saying nothing…each has it’s own place, silence and speaking, maybe?

Perhaps the use of speech vs silence, is best summed up by Samuel Butler;

“Silence is not always tact, but it is tact that is golden, not silence.”

Maybe I can reword one of my favourites:

Grant me the courage to say the things I should say, the serenity to not say those that I shouldn’t, and the wisdom to know the difference. :-)

And I’ll leave it here.
Peace be with you.

Contributed by a reader, Louise - Crystal Silence by Chick Corea