Silence

I decided just now to participate in the WordPress weekly writing challenge.

Okay, I had massive writers’ block and I needed a prompt.  But still, it is participation of sorts.

This week’s challenge is entitled “the sound of blogging.”

I am a person who loves sound.  I was being half laughed at and half praised for rocking some ear buds and listening to some music (namely, Michael Jackson and some other 1980s delights) while contouring a beastly head and neck case at work the other day.  My mother used to cringe when I would study to the background of music, or, even worse, the television.   I enjoy some good background noise.

I also get very distraught when too many sounds mix.  Groups of people all talking at once, songs playing simultaneously from two stores in the mall and anything loud (like my pager) make me loopy.

Despite enjoying some sort of background, I do think that we are ridiculously sensory overloaded most of the time.  So much so that when we are in silence, we don’t know what to do with ourselves.

Think about it… When was the last time you had complete silence?  How did it make you feel?

Most people get really uncomfortable in true silence.  We just don’t have that any more.  Unless you go out into the middle of nowhere.  Or a soundproof room.  Both are generally not easily accessible.

Silence can have a negative connotation for us… The “silent treatment.”  I shut down when I am angry and sometimes pull this card.  Not because I am intentionally wanting to give a silent treatment, but because I can’t think of any way to respond productive or otherwise until I process further.

But, not all silence is bad.  In fact, silence is good.

A vacation for the ears, if you may.

Now, I am picturing an angry looking 1960s librarian shushing people.  You know, with the hair and the glasses and the finger up to her lips… SILENCE!

Because screaming to be quiet is always effective.  The shush noise too… It always seems to be louder than what was happening before.  At least that is my take on things.

Even silence has a sound.  That ringing in your ears that are poorly adjusted to having nothing flooding them.  The calmness that comes with it.   It is all very still.

There is a peace in silence.  Something about it can allow you to reflect and really have a blank space to process, if you let it.

In medicine, they teach us to use silence as a communication tool.  To communicate using body language and listening instead of words.  To not pressure people or fill in gaps.

It is tempting to take over a conversation when things get silent.  It is an art form to use silence as an effective communication tool.  Especially in already uncomfortable conversations.  But, sometimes, when you give someone an extra few moments (even though those few seconds feel like hours), they can come out and say things you wouldn’t have heard otherwise.  Because you gave them time to process (either that or they are so uncomfortable, they need to say that thing so that the silence ends).  Either way, it works.

I am a big proponent of the use of silence in communication.  In clinical skills, one of our instructors would tell us to use the skills  with other people in places like bars to practice.  Sounds lame, right?  But, seriously, I have clinical skills-ed plenty of people in unusual circumstances and it works… Even the silence, though that was something I tended to do anyway.

In the spiritual spectrum, silence plays a role too.  Remember that Bible verse, “Be still and know that I am God,” from Psalm 46:10?  Well, being still isn’t just the literal not moving.  The concept is being calm and silent, not running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Here again, our fear of silence rears its ugly head.

I am not saying the Bible says we can’t make noise.  It is good, in fact.  But, it does suggest that we need to be patient and, well, still.  Especially when we are listening for God.  We have so many distractions that come in so many packages, it is difficult to really focus on one piece of the puzzle.  But, if we actually went out on a limb and spent some time really listening for God and not to the other million things going on, would that be such a bad thing?

I think for some people, like myself, sitting and praying in a silent room is unnatural.  It feels to quiet.  I need something else going on.  But, really, that is just my overstimulated brain.  I am able to focus.  And I should.  God wants to spend time with us.  And we need to have focus on that time.  Not be distracted by the ten million other things that we generally are from day to day.  Especially in the noisy world we live in.

I generally think having silence to study and such is overrated, but I do see significant value in silence.  Especially when it comes to effective communication on many levels.

Fortunately, silence is not always required.  So, I am still free to have music playing in the background (if only in my head) much of the time!

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3 thoughts on “Silence

  1. i agree with you. i think silence is gold if other means of communication will likely worsen the situation.
    and the words in the first picture.. exactly flying in my head when i’m silenced by my anger or annoyed by something i can’t tolerate.

    • It is definitely safer to be silent than have to do damage control after saying something awful.
      I know, the first picture was just too perfect! I was excited to have found it.
      Thanks for checking out my blog!

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