Silence: complete absence of sound; from Latin: silere and from old French: silence; muteness, still, stillness (Oxford Dictionary)
In my last post, I asked anyone who stumbled upon my blog what silence meant to them and how it made them feel. For me, I used to immediately think of my two most favourite places: the beach and the library. After I posted that question here and on my Facebook wall, to my surprise and disappointment, I was met with, well, silence. A virtual kind of silence if you will, as there was no reply or reaction to my post save one like from a friend on Facebook. I waited a day, thinking that my friends would be clamouring to share their thoughts with me. I was reminded by a friend I confided to that silence is a tough subject for most people to talk about, let alone share what they feel about it. I’ll be the first to step out and share, and, who knows, maybe anyone reading this will be able to relate or connect with me.
I experienced this silence that day and decided to sit with it and lean into it, to explore and understand it. I met Silence’s companions, Loneliness and Disconnectedness/Isolation. I felt hurt and afraid. I realized that I’ve felt this way before and have usually taken to distracting myself from it by eating sweets or reading a fluffy book or something like that. Anything to feel good again. In those moments the next day after posting I asked myself some tough questions. Some of those tough questions for me were, “Why do you run from these feelings by eating sweets, watching Netflix, or reading fluffy books or bumbling around on your smart phone? Why do you try so hard to suppress, distract, and run away from them? What are you afraid of?” Put simply, because, it hurts. Even though I logically know that the feelings of loneliness and disconnectedness/isolation are temporary and must be experienced, I still run from them out of fear and hurt.
Well, I spent the past few days reflecting on these things and on silence itself. I had a couple of close friends share their thoughts with me eventually this week and I felt privileged. Thank you to those who shared their thoughts with me. I felt connected and I felt joy to be able to read or listen to each of you. So, what’s all this fuss about silence anyway?
I looked up what silence or stillness means in a few different contexts such as, music, religion, and Oxford definitions and etymologies. I was inspired by how in Judaism, there are at least six different forms of silence. It gave such a richness and depth to the meaning of silence/stillness for me personally. Here’s a quote from his blog post:
“Silence can be sweetly contented, like the quiet (domem) of a weaned child (Ps. 131:2). Silence can be anticipatory, like the soul’s silent (dom) alertness awaiting God (Ps. 37:7). Silence can be submissive, like the silent knowing (vayidom) of core truth (Lam. 3:28). Silence can evoke awe, like the “total quiet” before the splitting of the Sea of Reeds (Ex. 14:14). Silence can invite holiness, like the soul’s stillness (dumyah) that heralds deliverance (Ps. 62:2). More than inviting holiness, silence can be holiness itself: to the prophet Elijah, God emerged not in the noise and tumult but in a “still small voice” (kol d’mamah dakah) (1 Kings 19:12).”
(Check out Rabbi David Evans Markus’s blog here to read his full post on his thoughts if you’re interested.)
I was most intrigued and inspired by the idea of silence being holy or sacred itself. If silence can be all of these wonderful and beautiful things, why do we run from it and in essence ourselves? If you think you’re alone in running from such feelings as boredom or loneliness or disconnectedness, check out People would rather be electrically shocked than left alone with their thoughts article. More than just knowing we’re not alone in this discomfort, I was disturbed by this study’s results. People actually were so uncomfortable with their own selves, their thoughts, that they’d rather electrocute themselves was very sad to me.But I realized, it wasn’t any different than me running from silence by binging Netflix shows or goofing around mindlessly on my phone.
We mustn’t run from silence, ourselves, when we encounter such times. I think that it means to be wholly human to experience these feelings, to lean into them, and to explore them. Maybe even we could take a step further and accept them. Radical, eh? I believe we’d be more whole and satisfied with life moment by moment if we let in the silence and maybe even accepted it. What do you think? What would that look like for you in your own personal life?
Oh yeah, here
and still yet, here
are a few songs I enjoyed listening to that were about silence. I hope you enjoy them as well when you’ve the time and thank you for taking the time reading my post. My next post will be about what environmental/design psychology is and, as previously mentioned before, I’ll conclude with a separate wrap up post of how silence and environmental/design psychology are connected and their importance to us.