Several times, I have written about Silence. While there is a good kind of meditative, calm silence–an internal place where a person can go to rest and recollect himself. There are other silences that are far less positive.
Last week, I wrote about the Sounds of Silence that Paul Simon described and that he and Art Garfunkel wove into song.
Hello, Darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk to you again.
Because a vision softly creeping left its seeds while I was sleeping. And the vision that was planted in my brain, sill remains within the sounds of silence. In restless dreams, I walk alone. Narrow streets of cobblestone. Neath the halo of a street lamp, I turned my collar to the cold and damp.
And my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light that split the night and touched the sounds of silence.
The Simon-and-Garfunkel Silence is another kind of silence–one that is not recuperative and calming. This kind of silence is caused by people who will not or cannot connect to each other. They will not speak and they will not hear. This can be a one-on-one phenomenon, where one person refuses to speak to another, but it can also have global implications, where society becomes mute and deaf.
And in the naked light I saw, ten thousand people maybe more.Fools, you do not know. Silence, like a cancer grows.
In my opinion, idle chatter is deafening. It is Much Ado about Nothing. It is a waste of energy. On the other hand, it is possible to communicate with people–without saying a word. Eyes are great communicators. Even in a crowded room, eyes can meet and connection can occur.
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
In my opinion, when people get in crowd behavior, they tend to speak in generalities. They tend to say what they feel they “should” say or they go into argument mode–shouting to rise above the mob. When I talk to people, I like to shave away the generalities and the platitudes. I like for people to bare their souls. I like to speak and I like to hear. I like to connect. But in order for connection to happen, people must learn to actually see–as opposed to mere looking and they must learn to communicate–as opposed to merely talking. Otherwise, a room may be filled with people talking and yet, no one is saying anything at all.
For twenty years, I was involved with a family who were masters at speaking in generalities. The adults in the family did not want anyone to say anything personal or revealing. In their opinions, it would be better to not even think on that level but certainly, you were not encouraged to say what you thought. One time, I heard the father criticizing someone that everyone in the group knew. He said of her, “I bet she never kept a secret in her life.”
In my opinion, keeping secrets can be extremely self-damaging. Children who are sexually abused learn to keep secrets. Consequently, many do not live long at all. They commit suicide. They get hooked on drugs and alcohol. Mental illness overtakes them. In short, their secrets kill them. While I believe that there is a time and a place to speak, I DO believe that people need to learn how, where, and when to break those silences, too.
My art–especially my writing–helps me to connect. It helps me to connect with others–but more importantly, it helps me to connect to myself.
I have written several posts about why I blog. I blog because I kept painful secrets for such a long time that they wrapped around each other, became gnarled, and began to petrify. I blog because I think all of the time and I feel. I blog to pull the wires in my mind apart and to let them air. When I cannot do that, another kind of silence overcomes me. My artistic voice is muted and soon, I cannot paint; I cannot draw; and I cannot write. Tillie Olsen wrote about this kind of artistic silence in her book Silences.
While I condone periodic silences for meditative purposes, I do not condone long silences at all. When too much silence enters the equation, connection is lost. We lose the ability to connect with each other, and more importantly, we lose the ability to connect to ourselves.
©Jacki Kellum March 5, 2016