In almost every house down an average block of an American suburb, a TV or radio runs on, chiefly ignored by the inhabitants. It murders with each second, eating and stabbing away at this feared monster: silence. Not only physical silence, but also internal quiet has died out in the world. Silence has been snuffed out of our lives, and it has taken the peace with it. It is important to learn a way to make friends with it because it has many unknown qualities that go unnoticed. Bringing back a little quiet in the world will also bring back peace.
Silence has gone extinct. It is now just a memory that is almost a myth. The reason? We are terrified of it. Everywhere you look there are earbuds and headphones crammed into ears, blaring music. Cars pass with radios spitting out noise as they try to hold off the silence. There is also internal tumult everywhere. People are ever filling their brains with static, never pausing in the convoluted mess called life. We are impatient creatures who love action and hate the boring moments of dialogue, even though they are the most important bits. We are never taking time to calm our minds to see the world lucidly.
Nowadays, you are never without sound. Try to think of a time where you were in complete quiet for just one hour or even fifteen minutes. Jason D. Bradley, writer for the RELEVANT magazine, explains that “More than any other time in history, we have the ability to stave off the loneliness, sadness and ennui that plagues us.” We need to learn how to find tranquility among all the white noise of the modern world. Constant noise is the weapon we wield to combat the terror of the hush. But what is silence, really, and why are we afraid of it?
Everyone is scared of the unknown. Therefore to get over a fear, you must first learn what it is. Silence is the absence of any purposeful noise or sound. You may think you are “quiet” all the time, but you are probably mistaken. In this modern day, our life is incessantly accompanied by background noise. Taking it away is uncomfortable, like a TV show without its usual theme song or backdrop music. However uncomfortable, it is not a bad thing. Taking the time to meditate or just sit in silence for even a few minutes can calm and rejuvenate you. It can be difficult to find a way of doing this. Knowing what silence is, is the first step. Discovering the other reasons for our fear is the next one.
I recently went on a retreat where meals and many other activities were performed in silence. It was a retreat where you were suppose to focus on yourself and your life, and this was a way of forcing us to do it. Sitting among a large group of peers in a room as quiet as death, I realized how little of it I had experienced. No one was describing their day, complaining about problems, retelling stupid jokes; Not even a simple “how are you?” was allowed. And believe me it took “awkward silence” to a whole new level. By dinner, however, I had discovered something; I didn’t mind the tranquility. I could see by the apprehensive expressions of my neighbors that I was mostly alone in this epiphany. Ever since, I have wondered why. The answer is not just that we have an innate fear of quiet but one of isolation, also. It is rather straightforward; people do not like being alone, and it is hard to find silence when you’re not alone.
Silence and solitude are connected because isolation causes quiet. We are afraid of them because they create an environment of self. Many people are not comfortable in their own skin. Being alone and quiet is oppressive to these people. It forces them to think about themselves and “socialize” with themselves. It enables them to think deeply and fully, a horrible thought to some. Embracing the times we are alone will help you know yourself better. Silence is feared also because it is seen so little. Sadly, the world is becoming a smaller place as we widen our knowledge of it. Forests are dwindling, wildlife extinction is becoming common, and metal and pavement are stretching across the land. Advancement is good, but too much of a good thing is a bad thing. The silence and tranquility of nature are being destroyed. They are not gone yet, though. Take the time to experience and enjoy the peace of nature while it’s still around.
All silence is, is the withdrawal of noise and sound. It is only frightening if you permit it to be. It is, on the contrary, a beautiful contrivance that helps you hear things all the more clearly. It may be elusive, but once you add it into your life it, you will wonder how you lived without it before. Meditating, or really even just taking a moment to breathe in the quiet can bring a bit of peace into your life. Why suffer the silence when it lets you see yourself and the world better?