learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say
anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.”
― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
Only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. I love this. Anyone who knows me also knows that silence has not been my strong suit. In fact, I have spent most of my life feeling compelled to fill empty air with my audio energy. Sometimes I have spoken because no one else was speaking. Sometimes I have spoken because I was the only one not speaking. It was not until I entered my 40's that I began speaking when I have something to say.....something that needs saying.
Speaking up only when you have something meaningful to say forces you into a space of thinking, evaluating, and weighing the landing of your words before they are spoken. I find they have safer landing when I take this extra time for pre introspection. My words become more of a treasure, less of a commodity. People tend to respond better, I find the words don't have to be retracted, and sometimes I see the registration of my words being filed in people's hearts and psyche, especially my children. That is a mighty high responsibility.
Lately, I have learned to sit in the company of others and be completely O.K. being completely silent. I have learned more from an afternoon of silence than a day of idle chatter. I especially like sitting quietly when passions are high and ideas hotly contested. The business meeting where everyone mostly just feels the need to be right, the family dinner where great uncle Johnny is giving priceless oral history, the first several moments when your teenager comes into the room trying not cry while trying harder just to talk. The spousal argument you should of had two months ago when the issue was relevant, but today silence is a welcome friend. “I don't want to be married just to be married. I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse, someone I can't be silent with.”
― Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
So I will continue in my silence, at least until I stumble upon something that needs saying, and then until I say something that only my silence can heal.
I find myself asking these questions; Are my words enlightening? Will my words bring light? Are my words well-intentioned or divisive? Will my words live with glee or die in darkness? Is my silence the best outcome for me and this situation before me?