Silence can mean many things. It’s not just the absence of sound, but can mean so much more. A purposeful retreat. A kept story. Hidden truth. Stifled memory. A chapter sealed shut or a precious moment locked away for only your viewing pleasure.
Silence and I have experienced all of the above. For better or worse, Silence and I have shared them all.
I would love to say that Silence is good or that Silence is bad.
Don’t we always want the black and white? The right and wrong? The clearly defined choice? But the truth of the matter is, Silence lives in the gray. There is a time and a place. It serves a purpose. It can be our friend or foe, but just like real relationships, it exists in our life to teach us a lesson. When we look back, we can see how Silence was there to help us.
I don’t even need to dig far back into the memory files to give you an example. I can rewind just the past few days and examine the relationship I have with Silence.
Typically, I am a sharer. I open myself to others. I listen to their stories and readily share my own. Many people struggle with sharing their deep and intimate thoughts, but I share them frequently with my loved ones and often with strangers or new friends that I consider to be kindred spirits.
And since you, dear reader, are a kindred spirit, I will share with you a few details about my relationship with Silence.
Silence Example #1
I am currently in the beginning stages of a budding romantic tale. A new love interest has entered my world and I want to share all of the beautiful details with everyone I know (and there are many), but they are mine. And his. Ours. And so it goes that I give the bullet-points and highlight reel to a select few confidants, and the rest stay sealed away for myself. They are far too precious and too valuable for sharing. Outside of he and I, those moments are silenced. Kept fresh and locked away with the valuables – unwilling to let words or time wear away the gleam.
Silence Example #2
Someone I hold dear to my heart contacted me the other day. We have a strange relationship, he and I. Once lovers, now friends – but walking that fine line of how much is too much communication and what does friendship look like, post-romantic-relationship? I was almost silent. For hours I rolled around whether or not I should respond. Whether I should remain silent and seal our relationship shut (since this awkward phase frustrates me), or whether I should answer my friend and try to navigate this new terrain of friendship.
After hours of deliberating, I wrote him back. For me, purposeful silence feels like punishment. Not everyone perceives it that way, but I do. And since I do, I simply will not do that to someone. I either tell the person I don’t think we should remain in contact or I open a dialogue and work on mending the relationship. But he is far too special not to at least try navigating this new friendship terrain. Ultimately, we had a pleasant chat and made another small step down our new path as just friends.
Silence Example #3
My poor, sweet, patient mother has been dealing with my silence. About six months ago I moved cities, changed jobs and all but altered every single facet of my life. While this change has been welcomed, and wanted, and I am more than grateful for every ounce of change – it has also been extremely exhausting. Unable to do any single daily task on auto-pilot, I was left drained and in need of more “me time” than I have needed in years. Prior to my move, she and I would chat regularly and text often. After my move, I all but fell off the face of the phone and went silent.
In reality, we exchanged a few texts a week and a brief phone call once a week, or every other week, but for her it was as good as silence. We had a nice long chat tonight and I explained my silence and my gratitude for her patience. I am well aware that silence can seem like abandonment, but I needed to retreat. My own personal silence was necessary to process all the change in my life. So my personal silence, my walks in the park and books by dim lighting, resulted in a restful mind for me and worry for my mother. But she kept silent, out of respect for me and waited for my return and our lovely, silence-mending conversation we had this evening.
We all have a personal relationship with Silence. We share different experiences and view Silence under different light. It’s amazing really – how something that seems like such a simple concept, can take on so many forms. Isn’t it?
P.S. This diary-like post was inspired by the Weekly Writing Challenge posed by the Daily Post on “The Sound of Silence.”