PSA: choose silence

Sitting on the front porch as the sun closes the day, the cicadas are deafening. My mother is nearly deaf, and the deficit she experiences seems impossible to me. She is so beautiful and charismatic that most people don’t notice; nevertheless, she works really hard to understand, and it is a massive hill she commits to climb every morning when her feet touch the floor. She will sometimes mention what it is like to remove her hearing aids, to tune the world out, and to allow herself, her silence, to be enough.

Sometimes she retreats to this silence, but other times she chooses it with relish, and I think she has something to teach us here. She might slink along, furious at the frustration she must carry, head lowered, falling into silence. More often though, she dances into her room after a full day of engaging, and sinks into silence, happily spent and ready for rest. Either way—slinking or sinking—she knows the silence will restore her. She has learned to trust that although words come and go, silence resonates, connecting us to ourselves and those around us in deep and wonderful ways.

If an honest look at the day reveals a yearning for restoration, then silence is worth leaning into.

There is a reason our earliest literatures explored the meanings of life and depicted comedies and tragedies. Our lives are studies in both, and these are the stories offered us as we try to make sense of it all. We come to the end of the day broken, or we collapse with full hearts. We are foolish to think our story will mostly follow one path. An authentic accounting of the week usually reflects highs and lows, and it takes space and time to reflect on our experiences of both in order to discover the center holds.

 Silence. Stillness. Quiet. Whether we need replenishing because the world is too much and everything feels hard, or find that our very lives are wonderfully exploding with happy demands, it behooves us to find a way into quiet. People are wonderful and terrible. Work is engaging and mind numbing. Friends are invigorating and exhausting. Life is mind blowing and soul crushing. Love is ecstatic and excruciating. We need a minute, damnit! There is a reason that most yoga studios now offer ‘restorative yoga’, that weed is prolific, that tv binging and bottles of wine usher in so many nights. We are desperate for stillness.

Consider this your PSA to instead walk outside and sit with yourself for a spell. Whether you’re ‘going through’ or crushing it, silence will deepen and contextualize your experience, clarifying your voice and elevating your belief in the importance of the life you’ve been given. Silence reintroduces us to our own voice, reminding us that we never want for company when we cultivate our own ways of thinking and learning. Silence teaches us that distractions often detract from the productivity of sitting with a thought or a feeling for a long time. Silence reveals that the chaos without is often matched by the chaos within, and that stillness clarifies.

Silence is a good idea.

 As July ticks along, life can fall short of expectations. Dreams of longer days, of time with our beloveds, can turn into weeks so full of “moments” that we are left breathless, spent. Intensely curated vacation plans can instead yield broken arms, or marking fights, or crippling depression. On the other hand, moments can be so precious, so clearly eternal, that a yearning to stop time consumes. July can be a manic time of activity, but I want to remind us that the silence calls to us as well.

 Being with my mom reminds me that choosing to spend time in silence prepares us to reengage those around us. Keeping our own company opens our eyes to beauty, to wonder, to small things. Each of us is #livingmybestlife and #cursed, depending on the day. Pulling away allows us to find our breath, to remember that the comedy or tragedy of today does not dictate the entirety of our existence. I treasure the gift of having watched my mom step into silence over the course of her life, slowly learning that sitting with herself allows her to sit well with others.

 Find a porch or a park as the heat gives up for the day, and feel the pleasure of being deafened by the cicadas. Their pulsing volume encourages silence from the rest of us, and offers space to listen, to be still, to find a blank mind, and to be restored to the quiet living within. It is worth suspending the noise, the activity, the engagement, the productivity, and the time to become reacquainted with the divine imprint within. Restoration lives there, waiting quietly to awe us into silence.