Amongst the one too many gifts that life has bestowed upon man there is one that doubles up as a tool to find answers to the million questions swirling around in his head. Ironically this gift that I ‘talk’ about has the ultimate power of keeping the vocal chords on a leash. It is silence!
Seldom used, many wise men consider the gift of silence as an art which is perhaps why they call it ‘practicing silence’. Contrary to the popular belief, silence is not the treasure only of saints and monks. Almost every single English adaptation of a Chinese or Japanese warrior genre movie would have a minimum of two characters that are silent and hence powerful and graceful, in stark contrast to a blabbermouth who would most probably be the hero and goes ‘Whoa! Dude you are cool’! When the fighter slashes up a dozen bamboo sticks midair!
Does silence really give a person so much control? That would be a vehement yes! Spiritual language uses a liberal dose of terms to define the effects of the silence-habit, right from channelizing your chi vibrations to as much as transcending your soul and attaining salvation! But since am yet to sell my Ferrari and become a monk, I thought I’d just pen down my interpretation of silence to the extent that my death-metal repellent brain could fathom!
To the layman silence would simply mean the absence of sound but truly Webster goes only that far. Silence is a whole new world! A wonderful and completely different experience. Silence is when you choose to stop adding your part to the milieu and start to listen to other sounds around you and counts like a form of respect shown to them. It is in itself a new genre of music!
Men and women keep up talk most of the time because of the inherent fear that silence brings with it. Talking gives a sense of fitting-in and lets a person realize they are alive and well…but true living is from the inside and the true sign of living is listening to the sound that the heart makes against the ribs rising above the chaos in the outside world. Silence is a secret understanding with all forms of life…a channel of communication and with focus can be put to creating harmony.
To put it simply it’s such a great relief to shut up for a while and take notice of all the crap that you sometimes deliver. When you take stock of that you’ll be amazed to know how much energy you can conserve!
Hatsumomo in Memoirs of a Geisha says “sometimes the best reply is silence”. How very true! Millions of students around the world would agree with me unanimously when I say its better to remain silent for a few minutes rather than walking the plank giving the wrong answer to a prof’s question in front of the nerds! :P . Maybe it was a wise student who said “silence is golden” and with today’s market rates, that amounts to a fortune!
Silence gives you a sense of calm and the power of observation. Bird lovers need to stay silent if they love to watch a flock…a group of cool dudes remain so for the time they can hold their wisecracks in front of a girl!
Silence gives you interpretations…like they say ‘calm before a storm’. The unspoken word is what differentiates wisdom from stupidity. I read somewhere that words are like toothpaste – something that you can’t put back into the tube once taken out. Silence is a form of beauty. It’s a style statement. It lends mystery to a person’s character and intrigues others to no bounds. No wonder heroes of the kind that pops a silent cigar and goes ‘uh huh’ are more interesting than the kind that drives you up the wall with a half page dialogue for a Hi!
I sometimes go on a silent spree…friends of mine would snigger at that statement because am a paler version of Geeth (of Jab we Met fame) but they know it’s true. And when am at it I usually end up talking a lot on the inside holding debates with my heart and mind trying to find answers to many accumulated ‘Why’s. Through that silence I find it easy to love, reason and forgive. It’s when I spend quality time with myself so that every time I talk after that I could try and make more sense.
In all the half hour I took to writing this article, I listened to the soft hum of the fan overhead, the babble of kids on the street, the gentle breeze romancing with the mango tree next door, couple of biker dudes riding their tyres flat, a distant horn, a yelping puppy, and a lot more subtle sounds. I spoke not a single word because I was busy listening…and for once I realized there are other sounds apart from my own…sounds that need appreciation…the language of silence helped me do just that. Life comes with bgm after all…you just got to sync yours with it! Cheers! :)