Back on Day 8 I wrote ‘The Man and the Silence’ which you can read here if you’d like. Beautiful had left me only a week ago and I was still getting accustomed to my new job. My sleep pattern was shot to hell and I was keeping myself up with the background hum of my hotel television because I couldn’t handle the permanent ringing silence that had characterized my nights.
When this all started, I thought the definitions were set. I was a lonely, heartbroken victim trying to pick up the pieces, Beautiful was the hungry consumer who took everything I had given her to figure out her feelings for someone else, and on that day, Silence was the enemy to be conquered.
I likened Silence to Loneliness and believed that the presence of one would surely shortly be followed by the presence of the other. I feared and hated the Silence because it only reminded me of the void I had in my life. My stories were caught in my throat with no one to share with and there were no soft, gentle voices to accompany me to sleep.
I realize now that I was mistaken to consider silence and loneliness as equivalent. After all, how many times have we felt alone amidst noise and chaos and how many times have we spent quiet, contemplative nights with the people we love? It is the loneliness we feel when surrounded by the noise of so many people that strikes us with the harshest clarity and it is the ability and comfort and ease of spending moments in silence that characterize the strongest of our relationships with others.
To conquer my enemy, I must know my enemy. Silence is not the enemy. It can most definitely be a symptom of loss, but it is not the ally of it.
Since that original post I have been sleeping better (as much as a night-owl can) and sleeping in silent peaceful contented solitude. I have been able to bring back and appreciate a facet of life that I used to always be comfortable with.
So what changed? Why this transformation and how?
Over the course of my writing I have begun to create a much clearer image of who the enemy really is and what it is I am actually fighting against. It was never silence. I was so caught up in defining myself by my relationships that to me, I thought anything that was not a part of that was the enemy. Beautiful was the enemy for ending our relationship. Loneliness was the enemy for creating the vacuum next to me. Silence was the enemy because it meant no one to listen to or talk to.
Loneliness is still the enemy. Nature abhors a vacuum. Beautiful, I wrestle with from day to day. But I can guarantee you that Silence is never the enemy. It gets a bad rap because Silence is an ally we all need but never want. It is the only one that speaks the truth.
When we are left in silence we are stripped of the distractions and pretty things that keep us occupied. It forces us to face the things we hum away in our mind with catchy songs and jingles. I hated Silence back then because it was only in its presence that I began to really reflect on the relationship and start to pick apart the good from the bad and learn to survive and grow on the scraps. The silence rattled me because I could not keep playing my victim song over and over. It offended me because it tried to understand Beautiful’s own journey and my place in it. It reduced me to tears because it couldn’t answer the questions I kept yelling inside.
Why not her.
Why not us.
Why am I alone.
Will I ever find someone.
Can I do this on my own.
But, it was also in the company of Silence that I began to acquire the wisdom to answer for myself. And the humility to let go of the questions that were not mine to contemplate. I stopped trying to control and justify the actions of others. It was in silence that I stopped obsessing over Beautiful’s actions and began to only hold myself accountable for my own.
It is always in silence that I find the best words. It is in silence that I find the best company. I used to fear that having no one to share with meant silence. Now I hope to find someone to share silence with.
Silence can sometimes be a grim accompaniment but is always a necessary companion. I do think for the same reasons I’ve said that too many people fear the Silence.
Perhaps it is possible to live a happy, blissful life never confronting or being comfortable with Silence. Perhaps, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Not for the curious and insightful soul. Not for the true consumers and devourers of life. If you are hungry, be quiet. Silence accompanies all the great emotions that are responsible for great writing. You are so happy you find yourself speechless. Grief overcomes you with such immensity that your sobs stay in your throat. Fear grips and steals your breath away. Love overwhelms in a way that cannot be expressed. Beauty freezes every part of you.
I am now okay with sitting next to Silence. It is my friend once more. I know to seek it in the largest moments of my life as that one brief moment when I am not distracted by little things. Silence is the sharp intake of breath when you take everything in for the very first time. It is your purest reaction.
Know your enemy. Conquer your enemy. Silence is not your enemy.
Man: 59 Loneliness: 18