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Thursday, 16 June 2016

The sounds of silence

Yesterday I visited my friend Joan again. She left hospital and stays at a hospice now. She told me that there is another person who hardly gets visitors while she gets many. I made a remark that kept clinging onto me. Visitors take away the sounds of silence and also the many thoughts inside our consciousness. For some the distraction of noise is most welcome, for others it's not.

Many people confuse solitude - and silence - with loneliness. I do not. I love my solitude, apart from the holiday season around Christmas and New Year. I have never really thought about how the opposite would feel. How it would feel to be afraid of silence. How it would feel to always need/want people around you, for company.

Socialising often feels like work to me, sometimes it's a pleasure, and sometimes even a burden. It depends on the nature and purpose of the event. Still, when I'm finally back at home, I usually wonder whether I did spend my time well. Spending time with others prevents me from doing my soul searching and my mind wandering and I really like - and even enjoy - visiting those friendly places inside my consciousness.

I suppose others are afraid of the silence and the emptiness and desperately try to fill these voids with words and with people. With hindsight I recognise that behaviour in certain people. Still I really do not understand what makes them so afraid. Perhaps they associate the Sound of Silence with not feeling alive - or even death. Noise equals life and living, and silence represents the opposite.

I have never been in a situation where there was no sound at all. Once I stopped my car in the middle of a fully deserted American prairie and heard no artificial or human sounds. The air was full of sounds however. Apart from the crickets, even the heat seemed to "break" the air in front of me, and made a remarkable sound which I still remember but cannot put in words (link). To me, it almost felt like a symphony of nature.

Sounds are everywhere when you listen carefully, and also in moments or situations which other people would describe as silent. The Sound(s) of Silence is not just a famous 1966 Simon & Garfunkel album and song (lyrics, video, Wiki-1Wiki-2). The Sounds of Silence are everywhere, if and when you listen. Nowadays, the most beautiful sound of silence to me is the wind touching the leaves of the trees. It's like a story being told but only to the ones who are listening.

I am not alone in this thought. Psychology Today: "Yet I have a suspicion. Perhaps we, society as a whole, are afraid of silence. We may have the terror of silence, because silence reminds us of solitude and death. So we protect ourselves from it with many and varied sounds. But, as any decent therapist who is not just fooling around would suggest, how about facing the fear? We might find out that, instead of fearing silence, we enjoy it". Note: italic markings by PT.

In fact, silence makes me appreciate sounds - and especially music - even more. It's like work and vacation. Vacation only means a lot to you when you are working. When you are not working, every single day is a vacation day. The word vacation then becomes meaningless - a blur.

Depeche Mode - Enjoy the Silence (1990) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


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