Today I am reflecting on silence.
I was asked this question: when someone is silent, what do you usually assume is the reason? The offerings were anger, busyness, frustration, apathy. I made my own box: desire. If someone I know is quiet, then I assume they just want a little quiet. This, I realized, stems from my own relationship with silence.
I crave silence because there just isn't very much of it in my world today. The last nine years I have had (at least) a child under the age of two home with me. Given that all four of my children love to be around people and love to talk, and that all four were terrible night sleepers, that left almost zero quiet time in my house. Add to that the noise of media and the general loudness of town life. It's no wonder that I yearn for a little country cabin in the woods, or that I love to shovel snow during a late night snowstorm when you can actually hear the sound of silence echoing around you.
I crave silence because I am a musician. That seems counter-intuitive, but for me, when music is playing, it leaps to the front of my brain and crowds out anything else. I am so connected with music that I can't read or study or even have a conversation with "background" music. Music is never background for me, it always becomes the foreground.
I crave silence because I am socially awkward with any situation other than a small gathering of very intimate friends. If I am giving an acquaintance a ride home, I will probably sit in silence as I drive. If I am sitting next to someone at an event, I will let the conversation fall off and not struggle to fill in the gap. There was a time when I worried about my inability to do "small talk" but now, I just embrace the silence.
And so, if you are silent, I rarely assume there is something wrong. I assume you, too, are yearning for a little peace, a little space, a little time to yourself. (So please do not use silence in place of communication if there is something wrong!)
One day I will have that little cabin in the woods.