I know most people who are afraid of silence. They can’t seem to stand not hearing anything. For them it’s a void so unbearable that they strive to do anything to fill it with noise. Any noise will do. They talk. They chatter. They turn to the streets for the blaring car horns, the sharp barks of dogs, screeching of wheels, the chatter of bystanders, the sounds of life passing by.
But, sometimes, silence is good. The absence of outside noise forces one to listen to what is happening inside one’s soul and mind.
This blog has been silent for a couple of weeks. It was a forced silence because real life (and its harsh realities) stepped in.
I got thinking about silence and all its complexities while lying on the hospital bed about 2 weeks ago. My left hand was throbbing slightly from the IV needle hooked to a dextrose bag. I was checked in a private room (one of the perks of being a government employee, thanks to PhilHealth) so I was alone most of the time. Since my ailment didn’t leave me debilitated or helpless, I didn’t need to be assisted when I have to go to the toilet (which was just 2 steps away) or if I need to walk about the room.
In fact, if not for the IV, I could have been on a vacation. Ok, if not for the IV, hospital gown and the disinfectant smell.
Anyways, during the 4 days I was there in the hospital, I often found myself deep in thought. It’s something I don’t do often, this deep, long thinking. Lying there in the hospital bed, staring at the light yellow wall but seeing through it, I thought and thought. Mostly about silence, and why I never appreciated it before.
When was the last time I was this alone and awake to realize that I am alone? I sleep alone being a single woman but I never really thought about it since I’m already sleepy and tired by the time I hit the sack.
Hearing nothing, I let my mind wander. I listened. I felt. And I realized that this was the first time I was conscious of having myself as company. And it felt odd. I make a strange bedfellow to myself.
So in those 4 days, I swam gingerly in this silence. I tasted it. I caressed and pinched it cautiously. I was like holding an alien ball that I didn’t know what it is about. Soon I was venturing deeper in this strange pool that reflected me in its ripples. I was exploring me, myself, I. It was both a pleasant and unpleasant experience. It was also a profound one.
I saw in one reflection the person that I have become that led me to why I was in the hospital. This train of thought led me to see my seemingly self-destructive tendencies and I saw them for what they are. For a long time I felt indestructible. I honestly don’t know why. I felt that bad things only happen to other people, certainly not me. Then in one loud, painful swoop, I was forced to look in the mirror and see the deep cracks there. The wall starts crumbling, the sword drops, and I felt naked, like a peeled apple, exposed and vulnerable.
It’s not easy being and feeling vulnerable. Especially when for a long time you’ve convinced yourself that you can do everything on your own. My definition of strength was invincibility and independence. My hospital experience taught me that strength is also about vulnerability, accepting your weaknesses and deficiencies and knowing how to deal with them.
So silence is good. But I wouldn’t recommend it in daily doses, though. It could drive one mad listening to one’s self all the time!