There are multiple ways of interacting with silence: purposefully leaving something unsaid, breaking the silence around a topic, or, quite simply, getting tongue-tied. For this week’s challenge, we want you to take the theme of silence and explore it in your own way.
Do you think there is there such a thing as complete and utter silence? Could we tune out all your senses and still be alive? And I wonder, in such a void wouldn’t we all go mad?
The first thing that came to mind when I contemplated silence was a concept for an art installation. A blindingly white room covered in braille, poems dotting the walls, a circular bench in the center. With invisible ink I wanted to write over top these tactile messages, the deeper thoughts that barely ever meet the light of day. I’d place a single button on the wall perhaps labeled “speak” or “truth”. Upon pressing it the room goes dark, subtext shouting visibly under black light, revealing all that’s left unsaid.
During college I was an understudy. The name of the play I can’t remember to save my life. I fear my lack of memory speaks to the lasting impact the role had on me. There were 7 women philosophizing around a table. But I was cast as the voiceless character, the invisible one -intended to be the shadow, the silent observer and reflection to the main character, her unexpressed self. I never spoke. Not one word.
And even though I learned every line, knew every direction; I never once took the stage as the lead. I think this may have been the director’s intent; that I never realize the main character- adding further to the tension and juxtaposition of my silence. Personally I have never been more frustrated, sadder in my life. Having no voice, feeling unheard and invisible, unessential to the world around me was devastating.
One day in rehearsal I broke down, all the pent up silence pouring forth. I knew I had things to say. I had a voice. One I wanted to share with the world. I wanted to be heard, silent no longer.
I learned the power of words even the littlest of them- Yes and No. And I came to understand that sometimes silence is the only reply. There’s a fine line etched between what you leave unspoken and fully express. The friends you don’t defend. The lies you let live. Silence is as dark as it is light. It can be serene or it can scream out loud.
Most people would assume I’m an extrovert. I am not. At heart I’m an introvert. I prefer to curl up with a good book then go to a concert, an intimate dinner to a cocktail party. Now I do love the hustle and bustle of city life, the constant drum of people, crowds blending together into their own white noise. But I crave silence like a newborn does the nipple.
Mother Teresa said listening to the silence of your heart is the beginning of prayer. Have you heard the music of silence? I have. In meditation I hear the whispers calling me home. Inside its hallowed halls my soul speaks to me. In the hush I float suspended on gossamer wings. My heart beating it’s cadence beneath my ribs, my blood pulsing in my ears. The little hairs standing attuned in every follicle.
It’s the moment of anticipation, the space between breaths. The 10 second pause before the leap. The line we walk between choice and fate.
The moments in which words are unnecessary like the first time your fingers entwine with another’s. The three little words I need not utter because you already know. But I say them all the same and we sit as their weight falls silent around us.
Silence is my sanctuary. Inside it’s quell volumes are written, stories told. But on that fateful day of rehearsal upon the theater stage I knew. No matter what I’ll never be silenced.
Braille Poem Translation:
I close my eyes
Shut out the world
to its neon noise
for silence to arrive
~ by DCT