Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Power of Silence

There is a poster that is making the rounds on Facebook,   Talking.  
It says:  

"TALKING (verb): Your mouth is moving and there is any kind of sound coming out. This includes talking to yourself, talking to somebody else, whispering, singing, or sound effects."

I replied to the posting:
It always astonishes me that some kids seem totally unaware that they can be heard, talking all of the time. I have taken to telling the younger ones (I start subbing 3rd grade up), that they should learn to talk inside their heads and not out loud.

I have had this conversation with far too many kids:
Me: Would everyone stop talking for a minute and listen to these instructions.
Kid: Yes. (Kid continues talking to his neighbor.)
Me: That includes you.
Kid: Yes, I know. I was just telling him .........
Me: Do you know what STOP talking means?
Kid: Yes, I was just telling him ......
Me: (Thinking: Should the whole class just wait for you to tell him about your ....?) 

I have asked before why it is that kids can't seem to keep quiet for ANY length of time any more.  Then someone followed up, saying that adults have the same problem.  And, now that I think of it, many do.  

The question is WHY?  Why are we so unable to keep silent?  I should note, that not all people are afflicted with this problem.  Some of the kids in the classrooms I sub in seldom say anything.  Some adults that I see, for instance, at games nights, seldom say much.  But, by far the larger number of people are more talkative than not.  And, I am, unfortunately, including myself.  I remember being at a teacher workshop with a friend.  We were required to attend a session that each of us could have easily taught ourselves.  We had gone over the material many, many times in the course of our work.  So, what did we do to keep ourselves amused?  We whispered jokes to each other during the training session.

Thus, one of the reasons for the abhorrence of keeping quiet: boredom or the activity of busy brains when outside stimuli aren't as interesting as internal ones.  

But, I think there is more to it than that.  It seems, as a culture, we have gotten so used to sound that we almost require it in order to feel comfortable.  People leave the TV on, even when no one is watching it, just so that there is some background noise.  Same with radio.  When people are out running or exercising in the weight room, they often have earplugs in their ears and are listening to something.  There are even a few people who have waterproof sound systems that they can listen to when they are swimming.  Restaurants and elevators have background music.  

Recently, my music teacher recommended that I listen to more music - music of all types.  I need to listen to more music to discover things that I like about various songs and types of music, so that I can incorporate some of them into the music that I am writing.  She is right, but I am reluctant and stubborn.

See, I have discovered that I like silence.  I like how my mind can wander around over all of the things I might want to think about - without the distraction of background noise.  Silence has the power to let me think.  To think my own thoughts and to figure out the world.  

True, not everything I think about is profound - or even interesting, but it is interesting to me.  I currently find it more interesting than the various types of music I should be listening to.  And, it isn't as though I am completely without music.  I often am singing one of my own songs as I work and think.  Lately, I am feeling very selfish.  I like my own thoughts - and I like the power of silence around me.


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