Silence. Does it scare you? Intimidate you? Make you nervous? Do you even know what it sounds like?
No, really. Do you? It may be because I have the attention span of a goldfi…… squirrel! but I have yet to hear silence.
Okay, back to making something resembling a point. For some reason, silence is scary. It’s unsettling. It’s always the moment in movies when the person with the [insert deadly weapon here] appears out of no where. Or it occurs right as you’re going to sleep, just as you’ve gotten comfortable. And it’s TOO quiet. Uncomfortably quiet. Or it’s when you’re standing with some friends and you reach that moment when you are all out of stuff to say. The conversation lapses for just a little too long and you’re all stuck in that awkward silence. In most cases silence is something that we all try to avoid.
We listen to music, have the tv on as background noise, text or message people and do just about anything to avoid getting caught in silence. But why? Why are we so afraid to sit in silence?
One of the best times of the day is just when you wake up, and you know you don’t actually have to get out of bed for a while. You can just lie there and stare at the ceiling or the wall (whichever you prefer) and just think. And as a side note, this is where I don’t think we actually ever reach true silence. Just saying. All you can hear are cars passing, birds chirping, and depending on how late you woke up, people moving about. And you can hear yourself. You can just lie there are let your mind wander as far as it wants, replaying certain exchanges, moments, days in your life. Thinking about the shapes on the ceiling or how you want to redecorate your room. You can obsess over the test you should be studying for or complain about that song stuck in your head. (because there’s ALWAYS at least one song stuck in your head… don’t lie.) And that’s relaxing. It’s comforting, almost. And it’s silence.
And maybe that’s precisely the reason we avoid quiet time. Because as wonderful as silence is when you have a migraine, or are stressed to the point of psychosis, leaving ourselves alone with our thoughts is scary. There’s a reason we all try to stay as busy as we possibly can, overcommiting ourselves and overstimulating our senses. We don’t want to stop and “chill” for a moment. If we really stopped and thought about what we were doing with our lives, would we be happy? Do we want to dwell on unpleasant things and impending deadlines? Should we risk unearthing past events and people we’ve tried so hard to forget? Of course not. So we just keep going and going like the energizer bunny until it catches up with us, and we crash.Personally, I’d rather nap than sit and just think, because at least then I wouldn’t have to think about what I should be doing. (I’m a big fan of napping, btw)
But sometimes silence is all you really need. Time out? Where you just sat and thought about whatever it was that you did…. or where you sat and stared blankly at the air in front of you? See, silence was all you needed. That and a healthy dose of parental fear. And even in some friendships, the lucky ones, silence is comforting. In those friendships, silence doesn’t seem awkward. It’s just… well, silence. And it’s not the result of running out of stuff to say, just the result of not feeling the need to fill the void with pointless chit-chat.