green grass in the foreground with the watermark - moonlight casts a shadow on tall trees

2023 Grateful 6: Silence

Tired of me repeatedly hushing them, a friend told me adamantly that no, they were not being loud.  We talked about it and concluded that as I work in total silence – no radio, no TV, no background noise – and they are always speaking over a radio or a TV or background noise – our definition of loud differs. A lot.

Sometime later, another friend weighed in on this saying that on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being silent and 10 being really, really loud, my loud was a 4 and their quiet was a 5.

I am very sensitive to sound.

The first time I went to Bangalore, I found the noise unbearable. I used to go to a bar on the top of the tallest building within walking distance in an effort to escape the sound of traffic and honking horns.

I love the quiet of the village. I can deal with the frogs, the rutting deer, the geese – they’re natural sounds. Those don’t seem to bother me. It’s the human sounds and the artificial sounds, they’re the ones that trouble me.

Himself is a talker. I’m not. Not usually. Unless I have some wine in me. I rarely feel the need to talk just because there is another person in the room, or in the car.

That’s odd, given that I make a sizeable chunk of my living from talking, but maybe that’s the reason I prefer silence when I’m off the clock.

I stumbled across this piece by Ella Deloria recently and it made me smile:

We Indians know about silence. We are not afraid of it. In fact, for us, silence is more powerful than words. Our elders were trained in the ways of silence, and they handed over this knowledge to us. Observe, listen, and then act, they would tell us. That was the manner of living.
With you, it is just the opposite. You learn by talking. You reward the children that talk the most at school. In your parties, you all try to talk at the same time. In your work, you are always having meetings in which everybody interrupts everybody and all talk five, ten or a hundred times. And you call that ‘solving a problem’. When you are in a room and there is silence, you get nervous. You must fill the space with sounds. So you talk compulsorily, even before you know what you are going to say.
White people love to discuss. They don’t even allow the other person to finish a sentence. They always interrupt. For us Indians, this looks like bad manners or even stupidity. If you start talking, I’m not going to interrupt you. I will listen. Maybe I’ll stop listening if I don’t like what you are saying, but I won’t interrupt you.
When you finish speaking, I’ll make up my mind about what you said, but I will not tell you I don’t agree unless it is important. Otherwise, I’ll just keep quiet and I’ll go away. You have told me all I need to know. There is no more to be said. But this is not enough for the majority of white people.
People should regard their words as seeds. They should sow them, and then allow them to grow in silence. Our elders taught us that the earth is always talking to us, but we should keep silent in order to hear her.
There are many voices besides ours. Many voices…
Am so very, very grateful to be surrounded by silence.

3 Responses

  1. Talking with Friends or Quakers in the northeast USA can be similar. No need to waste words. What you say may be met with a steady stare; maybe a nod. Then after a thoughtful moment a short comment. I was an only child and quiet was a happy companion. It unnerves my wife. Be well dear.

  2. been meaning to ask, do you have worries about the war in Ukraine and its proximity to you and your family?

    1. I worry more about the steady move to the far right. We’re in the SW corner of HU – about as far from UA as you can get and still be neighbours. We’re close to both SI and SK. It’s no more worrying than what’s happening in Myanmar, or Israel, or Syria or a host of other countries. Maybe because I’ve gotten used to it?

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