- michelle m. davis
The Sound of Silence
“The trees, the flowers, the plants grow in silence. The stars, the sun, the moon move in silence. Silence gives us a new perspective.” – St. Mother Teresa
Silence. It’s something that makes many of us uncomfortable. Do you ever find yourself having a compulsive urge to fill in the empty space, sometimes even at the risk of saying something that you wouldn’t normally utter… only to avoid the dreaded silence?
I recently spent ten days alone in Bend, Oregon. Scott needed to travel for business, and most of my “Bend Friends” were away. As a result being, I experienced a great deal more silence in my life than I am used to. Sure, I had the dogs, but even though I can talk to them, they only respond with loving licks, eye contact, and unspoken requests for belly rubs. There’s no verbal response, no back and forth talking, something that I take for granted. Of course I had interactions with others… at yoga, during my writer’s group (which is called “Shut Up And Write” – so we’re not too chatty), lunch or dinner with friends, and phone calls with Scott. Still, I missed the casual conversations with my husband, especially those in the evening, the ones that I take for granted.
While in this constant state of quiet, I found myself employing various strategies to add noise. I’d play Sonos throughout the house, switching stations to match my moods as they changed during the day. And, I started my first “Audible” book. Instead of reading the words, I chose to hear the author recite his novel. I also listened to various podcasts while walking the dogs, continuing them when driving or just doing things around the house.
Still, silence prevailed. Our small home seemed empty, and I definitely felt alone. But, then I thought, is this a bad thing? Is quiet time all by yourselfsomething that should be dreaded? What if I altered my perception and began to embrace the silence? What might I learn?
Not talking, staying inside my head, and dealing with the back and forth between my lower and higher selves, well, that ended up being pretty awesome! This silence permitted the shadows emerge, unafraid to come out of the dark. During this time by myself I was able to truly see some of what I’ve buried from my vision. Unable to hide in conversations with others, when only my own thoughts were present, there was no escaping. Rather, this time alone allowed me the perfect arena to confront some issues that I’ve been avoiding. I received a true gift from the sound of silence!
This experience taught me several valuable lessons. The most important being that I am capable, I am able to do things on my own. Sure, I preferto have Scott at home. It certainly makes everything much nicer. But, if he isn’t there, I’m okay… I don’t need him, rather I want him. There’s a big difference.
Another discovery is that our dog, Mac, will listen to me. Yes, he still pulls with “super dog” powers, requiring the “special spiked collar,” but I canwalk him. In fact, we had some great afternoons together. And, for a short time, I became the alpha in his life. He lay by my feed during breakfast and showed me some extra love while his main master was away.
Ultimately, I realized that being solo can be fun, that is if you allow it. When it’s “just you,” there’s no guilt when you choose to put on pajamas at seven in the evening. You decide what to make for dinner, even if it’s just white wine, chips, and salsa. And, no one gets mad at you when you’re watching the umpteenth episode of Friends and fall asleep with the television on.
In no way am I glamorizing living solo. I did it for many years. It’s fine, and now I know I could do it again, if necessary. However, the true gift of time by myself not only enforced that I am capable on my own, but it also reminded me how lucky I am to be living with my best friend. Sometimes we need time apart to appreciate what we have, what we so often take for granted.