I quite like silence … to many who know me that probably comes as a bit of a surprise, mainly because I can be a bit of a loud, annoying and nosey bugger … but silence has become, for me, a place of refreshment and rejuvenation. With certain people it also seems to be a place of real valuable place of meaningful communication and connection.
I have noticed that, for me, silence has become an important nourishing ingredient of my diet … so maybe those people that labelled me ‘introvert’ a few years back really did know what they were talking about.
For some background, I joined the sisters of St Francis at St Alphege for a week. Although they are not a silent order, they respected the fact that I wished top be in an attitude of silence for my 7 days with them … conversations were had at meal times as I feel a meal is supposed to be a social thing …. but outside those times I observed silence.
I have done a few bouts of 3 day silences, and I have often found those difficult to enter into. Surprisingly for me, this time, it was not entering the silence, but leaving the silence, which proved to be a challenge. Do you understand that feeling you get at the end of something where you want to leave, you know you should leave, things are pulling you to leave …. and yet … there is something like a trickle of a desire to simply stay …. to continue to experience the space a short while longer … well that was my experience this time. I knew it was time to go … but something within me wanted to stay.
Leaving silence and re-entering the real world, that I had only ‘left’ 7 days before was a challenge. I seemed to be hyper sensitive to the penetration of noise that seemed to bombard from everywhere. I remember looking quizzically at people with a ‘what the fuck are you even talking about that for?’ question screaming from my brain. That reaction was a complete, and quite shocking, observation for me to perceive.
In this seven day silence of reflection I seem to have become painfully conscious of how some, maybe the whole of our society, but particularly me (as I am only really qualified to talk about myself here … and I’m unique so it could just be me that feels like this .. because we are all unique…) uses the curtain of noise to wrap ourselves in and hide from reality.
When there is noise, rambling, music, words, …. I can listen to that and do not need to listen to myself. If i don’t listen to myself I can fool myself about the reality of things. If I don’t face reality it’s easy to act. Then life is played out on a stage … often with an audience of one!
I wonder whether it is true for many that they avoid silence, avoid that meeting with themself, with no one else around …. their simple, bare, open, honest self …. because they are afraid, really afraid, of what they may find.
In my poem in my last post I wrote
to freeze from running
and face who I may be
uncovering the past aches
that could reveal
That last word, ‘anything’, has in reality become a pretty scary word.
I was surprised by what some of the silence has revealed. I have been surprised by some of the stuff that I had ‘forgotten’.
That’s not strictly true … stuff had not been forgotten but so covered, squeezed, rolled and compressed into places where, for years, I did not have to think about them.
Silence gives opportunity to uncover, unsqueeze, unroll and decompress ….. and I will be honest …. that means some of the stuff is going to be quite painful to continue to uncover … but … it also means the uncovering and bearing really does leave me feeling less burdened with a much lighter, sunnier, outlook.
So ….. I move forward ……
(to be continued ….)