I’ve begun to realize you can listen to silence and learn from it; it has a quality and a dimension all its own. Anonymous
Silence is hard to find. I came across this unascribed quote on the internet and paused a moment to reflect on whether or not I believed it. As I did so, I heard the kick-plate heater in the kitchen blowing warm air, a truck passing by the house, my wife scraping butter onto our morning toast, and water boiling on the stove.
I also realized that if those sounds were not there, there is a constant whooshing in my ears I’ve always had. The technical term is tinnitus, but I suspect it is just the sound the wind makes as it blows from one ear through to the other.
In any case, while some people think better when they’ve got things going on in the background, I don’t. I find too much noise quite distracting. That’s somewhat ironic as I find I am losing my hearing ever more as I age.
I looked outside a few minutes ago and saw the full moon setting just to the west of us over the hills and said, “Hey honey,” (my wife was sitting next to me), “look at that gorgeous moon!”
She said, “I just told you that.”
“Oh, maybe that’s what caused me to look,” I replied (chagrined by my complete lack of awareness that she had even been speaking to me).
That often happens when I am reading or writing, of course. My mind (such as it is) is occupied and the twenty or so remaining synapses struggle to multitask. I can read, I can write, or I can listen. “Pick one” says the gray matter. Of course, I don’t listen to it; I just go back to reading, writing, or … ha! You thought I was going to say “listening,” but I already told you – I like silence!
Anyway, life goes on and whether or not I can hear well, I haven’t found it to be all that detrimental to my life – at least not the “mental” part of detrimental.
Having said all that, I should add that not all silence is golden. Sometimes it is important to break one’s silence and speak. As the Bible says, “There is a time to keep silent, and a time to speak up” (Eccl. 3:7)
One of my great-nieces shared a concern on social media about bullying in her school, and the trauma it was causing a number of her friends. She wondered what she could do about it.
Bullying is a scourge, of course, and not a time for silence. One must be prepared to speak up and act. Speaking without acting is hollow.
One day, back when the earth was still cooling, I was in elementary school at recess and several classmates were picking on one of the poorer kids. Gary came to school wearing shabby clothes, unkempt hair, and often looked a mess. He was not a friend of mine, but I knew who he was. As these two goons went about punching him (the school monitor was nowhere to be seen), I felt I had to do something, so I ambled over and told them to knock it off.
They stopped, looked at me, and shifted the focus of their assault. I would love to say I creamed them, but we exchanged a few body blows; they got tired and bored, and finally left. I dropped my hands and looked around and Gary was nowhere to be seen. That irritated me; I’d come to his rescue and he’d abandoned the field!
Interestingly, nothing more happened and that was the first, last, and only fight I ever got into in school. I don’t know if it stopped the bullies, and Gary and I never did become friends, buddies, allies, or anything else. But I don’t believe he was ever hassled again that I saw, and that was reward enough for me.
I don’t know what the answer to bullying is, but I know that dealing with it as best one can is important. We each need to stand up, speak, and act for one another, for if nothing changes, then nothing will change and that’s too high a price to pay for silence here in this, our valley.