Thursday, April 11, 2013

the power (and agony) of silence

Due to a knock-you-down-drag-you-out-and-just-when-you-think-it-can't-be-worse-spit-on-your-feverishly-clammy-and-achy-body sickness, I've been unable to speak above a whisper for eight days. Eight days!  This is my new definition of hell.

I've discovered some interesting things, though.

The pros of silence

  • Turns out that many things I find myself wanting to say, if I just give others a little more time, they'll figure out for themselves.  So not all of my comments are as urgent as I've thought them to be.  
  • It wasn't until this experience that I remembered what it was like not to know the answers to questions.  (Was there life before the internet?)
  • I can observe others a great deal more.  
  • Texting becomes a more viable means of communication.
  • I can hear myself think.
  • Not speaking up has made me realize how easy it is for others (especially introverts) to feel trampled by those, like me, who speak easily and all the time.
  • I've realized there are more means of communication than speech.  Acts of service, performed by my loved ones, have reminded me that, even though I miss it desperately, talk is cheap.
  • I've seen the value of choosing what I say and being as succinct as possible.
  • There are specific people I actively miss speaking to.  (This is a nice feeling, strangely.)
The cons of silence
  • I'm a very, very social animal.  Not being able to express my thoughts has made me feel sad, lonely, isolated, and irrelevant.  
  • It's not as if my thoughts have been stilled, they've just been trapped.  And I think this was how my first attempt at meditation looked -- I was trying not to have thoughts, or to regulate them, or somehow master them.  Leaving me feeling isolated and unhappy.  
  • I haven't been able to coach, work, or follow up with people beyond emailing.
  • Did I mention it's lonely?  It's lonely.
  • There are specific people I actively miss speaking to.  (This also a not-so-nice feeling, it turns out.)
I've often wondered if I could do one of those retreats where you don't speak for ten days.  Turns out, I probably could.  The question is, would I want to?

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