Sometimes silence is sweet…REALLY???

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by Kenneth Justice

~ “Kenneth, I just love the song The Sound of Silence” said my friend sitting with me at coffee the other day, he was referring to the Simon & Garfunkle hit from back in the day. I really like that song as well but even more so; I really enjoy the simple philosophy behind the title; ‘the sound of silence’…..of course we know that ‘silence’ is not a sound, but rather its the lack of sound.

I was thinking about that song the other day and it dawned on me; one of the reasons I love getting up so early in the morning is the silence….the quiet calm of early morning is refreshing in many ways and I find that I’m able to get more writing and more thinking done early in the morning.

I like sitting at the café when they first open. I’m usually the second or third person to arrive since the homeless people are also early risers;  they too love coffee. I sit at my little table and write my articles or read whatever particular book is on my reading list for the week, I sip my coffee….and I enjoy the quiet.

So much of our lives here in the Western World are overwhelmed with noise and busyness;

—) Cell phones buzzing all around us

—) Automobiles pounding down the pavement

—) Bosses yelling at us to finish our work by the deadline

—) Taking care of crying babies or driving our children to soccer practice

Noise, busyness, rushing around…..our lives can be so hectic and fast-paced that it’s amazing that more of us don’t go nut’s from all the craziness. It’s no wonder that 70% of all Americans take some kind of prescription drug; with the fast paced nature of our lives we are probably overwhelming our senses and we turn to drugs in order to ‘chill out’.

When I used to sit with people I would get uncomfortable if an awkward pause occurred in the conversation; I somehow thought that it was my responsibility to keep the conversation moving and so I would try and think up something clever to say……..fortunately, my time working as a counselor helped teach me that silence can be a good thing. Sometimes it is a beautiful experience to be with another person in silence and to simply enjoy the view of the sun rise or to people-watch the various men and women walking by…..sometimes it is through silence that greater thoughts can be attained.

On Christmas Eve two nights ago I attended Midnight Mass which is one of my favorite services of the year; at various intervals during the liturgy the colossal ancient sanctuary becomes totally silent. Its an intense experience to be surrounded by hundreds of people while sitting in the 150 year old cathedral; in total silence. It becomes so quiet you can hear the slightest cough or the smallest scuffle of feet on the wooden floor…..and then when they turn all the lights out and everyone is handed a candle to hold during the singing of Silent Night its a pretty special moment.

Silence can be a beautiful experience two people share together……….and it can even be a special experience shared by hundreds of people on Christmas Eve.

My life is very hectic. To be honest, I have a lot of responsibilities and much of the time I feel as though I am behind on work and family obligations. I have quite a few friends and acquaintances so my schedule is often overflowing with appointments and people to see; my life is filled with a ton of busyness and noise………and so the older I get the more I am beginning to really value the sound of silence.

This morning I woke up at 5:30 A.M to find that it had snowed all night…..the world outside my house was entirely blanketed with a beautiful cover of white. As I walked my two dogs outside this morning I enjoyed the extra-special sound of silence. Snow has this way of making the world feel even quieter…..I’m not sure if it is merely something I imagine or if snow really does make things more quiet; but either way my two little dogs and I walked down the path in the snow and enjoyed the beauty of the moment.

Sometimes its important in the midst of our busy lives to enjoy the silence…to enjoy the beauty of the moment. If we aren’t careful, it is easy to allow the busyness of Western Culture overwhelm us. There are so many things in our society that can distract us from enjoying the moment; there are so many things that are screwed up that If we aren’t careful its easy to end up spending much of our life getting pissed off all the time; because there is a lot to be pissed of at;

—) The economy in much of the Western World sucks

—) Joblessness is rampant

—) A lot of people still live in poverty

—) There are still too many men out there who abuse women and treat them like s**t

The list of the world’s ills are endless…….and sometimes its important that we just take a moment and enjoy the sound of silence,

For now I will have another cup of coffee,

Kenneth

p.s. if you’re not too hung over from New Years Eve partying…come back to the blog on New Years Day for my big announcement!



Categories: Culture & Society

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78 replies

  1. I’ve always loved the sound of silence – the song too. Its best for me to begin each day with serene peacefulness.
    Enjoy as many moments as you notice – there will be some that get away but those can’t be found – so stick with being what you can in the present because that is where the real you is and there is great potential right there in that moment.
    ~ Eric

  2. Secret. I read your article before I meditate each morning. The reason is simple. You talk about important things that move me emotionally. Sometimes I even cry a little bit. Then when I begin to meditate, I let go of all 1,000,000 thoughts and just feel. Silence is healing.

    • Ellen,
      thank you 🙂 sometimes I feel like I am focusing too much on serious things and I often get emails from people that say they are only able to read me a few times a month because they ‘have to be in a serious mood’ in order to get into what I have to say……but that’s what is great about the internet, there are plenty of websites out there that are funny and ‘light’ and that is good…..I’m just one little writer among a million (maybe a billion) other writers 🙂

  3. And it is a shame that places of silence or where nature is the sound of choice are slowly disappearing here and there. I love it.
    I for one cannot live in the centre of a town(not any more at least) , though I have to have it near by for convenience.I love to go out have a drink and mingle. But i need an escape. to recharge

    And most find it weird when you put away your phone for a day. NO work no buzzing just recharging. Take a step back and be amazed how your perception on the world changes. Widen your view.

    thanks Dude one great read

    • Ranting Crow,

      so TRUE….I live in the city and it is a dilemma for me; because I LOVE LOVE being in the country…but I simply Love the city as well. My perfect world would be if I could own a house in the country and also own a house in the city and split the time between the two…..

  4. Mmmmm… Snow and silence. The greatest muffler of all. Even better then fog. What a lovely sensuous memory this Boxing Day. But Silence? Doesn’t exist. Had a holiday in the Spanish mountains. We saw one human all week. Man them birds are noisy when humans aren’t around. And flies. And crickets. And bushes in the wind. And …. Solitude. Now that is precious.

  5. I love this one. I agree – silence can be great. I look at it a lil’ differently right now because I’m alone so much of the time at the moment, but in the end, even I still need silence on occasion. I agree Midnight Mass is so beautiful. I also totally agree that in the early morning hours after a snowfall are so incredibly peaceful. I love it!

    • Yea Jen, in your situation living in the desert away from your friends and family I can totally see how u might want less silence and a little more noise! Dude, it totally sucks u didn’t get to home for Christmas 😦 (Did you go to midnight mass on Christmas eve?)

    • You know… I didn’t finally. I really should have. I haven’t been to church in such a long time. I’ve been thinking about going back for a while to help with that whole “void” thing because I know now that it is possible to walk away with what I need/want from it and not take it so literally. I just hadn’t heard good things about the local pastor so I’ve been hesitant but perhaps I should find out for myself instead of heresy. Actually, it turned out to be a good holiday. Laying low can be nice too 🙂 I did still get invited to a friend’s dinner and that was nice. There was even family tension to make it complete LOL. 🙂

  6. If this is indeed the one from The Graduate, it is a favorite of mine!

  7. I agree.
    I teach music and a lot of what I am trying to teach is that NOT playing is very important. Everyone wants to play all the time, as if that is what they are supposed to do, and I explain that it is the silence between notes, the dynamics of loud and soft, that makes music more interesting.

    And as far as it being quiet when it snows – I would imagine, as sound bounces off of walls and hard surfaces. When one of these surfaces (the ground) is no longer available for bouncing because it has a nice soft, absorbent layer of snow, then it is indeed, a bit quieter.

    Have a nice cup of coffee.

    Rhan

  8. The deeper the snow, the deeper the silence. When we have a big snowfall I always go out at night and just stand there and enjoy the muted silence of that incredibly special moment. Stillness, silence that only deep snow can bring. It’s a wonderful moment and the black sky makes it that much better. “Hello darkness my old friend…” can be taken many ways but for now…I mean the night sky and deep snow.:)

  9. I understand how you feel for being behind on work and family obligations with too much responsibilities. Silence helps me to sort out my thoughts and speed up my work.

    >

  10. “VOLUMES”…. can be said… without speaking a word. (I said that)

  11. Love the post, Kenneth. Whenever I hear words like “Big Announcement,” I get nervous, and my mind goes to worst-case-scenarios. Let me say this, then, “I hope you are not leaving us!” … because that would be a silence I would not appreciate. I agree that silence can be beautiful and inspiring and healing and helpful … like your posts.

    • Ann, I am totally with you; I hate it when people say things like “big news” , “big announcement” and the like….it’s SOOOO bloody annoying…..ha ha and thus I am guilty of having done it! It’s annoying because most of the time “big announcements” are either an f&$*ing BIG disappointment…..or they are something that sucks, like a blogger retiring like you said…and after all; is there really something I could say that would be a “big” announcement and not be a BIG letdown? ..is my “big” announcemnt all that big of a deal; I think so! …..but for now, my lips are sealed 😉

  12. Silence + Coffee = A perfect morning

    Less chit chat and more action sounds good to me. Midnight Mass is a sacred time. One of my favorite nights, as well.

    I often need a lot of quiet time. My brain is in my head a lot, so in order to sort it out I’m often quiet. I like being in silence with others, too. It can be very fulfilling.

    Yet there’s nothing better than being the life of the party. It’s an introverted extroverts dream moment. 🙂 I’ll make sure I stop in for the big announcement, Kenneth. 🙂

  13. Only in the moments that we allow ourselves to experience the sounds of silence, can we hear the beauty of the earth whispering to us. 🙂

  14. Introvert, introvert—I am one too. I need the silence—-don’t get it nearly as often as I need it, but I try. For me silence can sometimes be a quest, but it is also the infinite healer. Praying you, and all others who crave it, to find peace. Blessings. Fyi, I also write best in the morning and try to get up early before the younguns 🙂
    Dana

  15. Acoustically, I think snow likely does increase silence! It covers hard surfaces that typically reflect sound with a soft, sound absorbing blanket. Not to mention when the fluffy stuff is still falling from the sky, diffusing sounds in the air! Interesting thought!

  16. “Snow silence” is not at all your imagination – it is a beautiful thing. I was down in Colonial Williamsburg last week and after dinner I would walk along the main street – very few people and all the houses with candles in the windows – the quiet and calm was amazing.

  17. The sages say, in silence, we discover our true self and feel the Presence.

  18. Thank you for this post. Before health issues caused me to end practicing law, I loved the very early mornings hours. With the exception of the twittering birds outside my window, the house was blissfully silent. With pen in hand, I’d write my morning pages. I like the Francis Bacon quote “Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” Blessings, lydia

  19. Silence makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like to be alone in the quite at any point and go so far as to make sure there is noise all night so I can sleep. Getting used to silences between people has taken some getting used to. Honestly, I still have to force myself to say nothing making it an uncomfortable experience for me. I’ll add that to things I should improve upon in 2014. The more I let silence linger between myself and other, the more I notice people are just fine in that silence.

    I think quiet and silence are two different things. I love the soft quiet sounds of the morning, but I hate the silence of night.

    • TK, this has been something ive been working on for years because I’m with you; “silence makes me uncomfortable” I’ve always been one of those people that if Im in the car with someone I feel that I have to keep the conversation going at every silent juncture…..but I’ve been diligently working on this for a long time and I’m slowly learning to enjoy the silence 🙂

  20. if you’re not too hung over from New Years Eve partying

    I don’t know what you’re talking about. New Year’s Eve, I’ve got to recover from the doctor threading up metal leads up my spine the day before for a trial period on a stim device. Normally, I would be taking my children to First Night festivities, to grind some boredom and energy out of them, but that’s just not realistic at all this year.

  21. There’s a line from a Rossetti poem, that was set to a deeply erotic song by Vaughan-Williams, which goes… “when two-fold silence was the song of love”. Being able to be silent together .. that’s special.

  22. As a Hard of Hearing (HoH) person I don’t really understand how hearing people function with all the noise in your world. My hearing aid (HA) helps me recruit more sound, but all too often it is just NOISE without meaning – something intrusive. If I don’t know I’m being spoken to your voice will be background noise.

    When I am in noisy places I take my HA off because I can then hear only what is very close to me (important to me).

    I feel fortunate that I can take out my HA and my world becomes very quiet. I can focus on what is important to me.

    I am amazed at how hearing people can seem to talk to a dozen people at a time in a noisy environment. I do one person at a time. That person gets all my attention as I watch them speak, watch their lips form words. You’ve never been listened to until you’ve been listened to by a HoH or Deaf person who is busy trying to pick up all your communication cues.

    Kenneth, I hope you are able to find times of quiet and expand them into ever-present moments. 🙂

    • Wow, what a great perspective….I never even thought of this subject from that angle.

      And yes, I find times of quiet…though they are probably fewer than I would like 🙂

  23. Loved reading this post just after a huge, very noisy family get together. I’m glad I’m not the only one who needs that solitude every once in a while, I feel like I have fried my brain a little this holiday. My favourite memories have always been (and will probably continue to be) when I’ve sat with my husband and a warm drink in silence, knowing my kids are safe in bed. It gives me a very much needed moment to reflect and clear my head without all the background noise. Silence IS golden!

    • “when I’ve sat with my husband and a warm drink in silence, knowing my kids are safe in bed”

      I love that picture; I think its something that every parent can appreciate 🙂

  24. My top guesses as to what your big announcement will be:
    3) you’re opening a coffee shop where people can get church there in some form or another
    2) you’re going on a road trip to meet all your readers
    1) you’re publishing a book

    • well, I’m not a pastor and I’m definitely not a priest…I think my vocabulary has too many…uh…’colorful’ words to prevent me from ever going into the ministry…so no, I’m not opening a coffee shop unfortunately

    • Ahh. So it’s one of the other two guesses then. Haha

    • I wish there was some sort very, very small group thing that could replace church. With much more of an attitude and healthy outlook like yours. I could do that and get so much more out of it too imo. Sorry to dwell on this topic.

    • not a problem…..this is one of the top five subject’s that people bring up to me at coffee. It is a great struggle for many believers that ‘church’ is in so many ways so disconnected from the reality of their lives

    • Esp hard for me as an introvert (INTJ/INFJ) type

    • that too is a very common theme I run into; people who are outgoing don’t seem to complain as much about their lack of connection within church….but people who are a bit more introverted are much more effected by the negative elements of ‘church’ in our culture. We all want to feel connected…but how when the church is so screwed up….there are no easy answers…and although I have a few deeper thoughts I’m always a bit hesitant to get too deep on the subject of ‘how I would do church differently’ publicly; it opens me up to having to deal with those in the church who want to argue with me and ‘go to war’ with me and I already have enough of that going on 😉

    • :-/ sad that their points are the only valid ones and there are to be a “war” if someone suggests something new or non traditional. They can’t see that sometimes we can’t all fit into the traditional mold unfortunately. I guess we just go and struggle thru it, or we stop going and get weaker & weaker in our faith.

    • well I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there are solutions out there 🙂

    • Today, I decided I’m not going to church any more. Scared to tell my best friend. I know she won’t stop being my best friend, but I know it will make her sad. I haven’t rejected God just can’t feel Him there.

    • hopendreamn,

      my heart totally goes out to you….there have been so many times I have felt the same as what you’re describing. I forget, aren’t you in the Midwest somewhere? Hopefully your friend won’t see this as something ‘bad’ but rather as something that you need to work through….because I believe much of our lives (especially spiritually speaking) involve seasons of time in which we work through certain issues…and it doesn’t make us bad, or wrong, or in sin…..sometimes the best thing for us is to truly admit how we feel. Its better to be honest and admit that ‘we can’t feel god at church’ rather than to pretend that we can.

    • I’m in S Florida. Near Boca Raton.

    • hopendreamn, okay…lol sorry got u confused with someone else in Kansas city….

      florida is looking like a for sure stop so perhaps we might be able to get coffee 🙂 I have a ton of family that lives on the atlantic side of florida and I used to live down there as well…..I’ve had readers from Jacksonville, Daytona, and ft Lauderdale all shout out for a stop to the atlantic coast so I’m thinking of making it towards the end of the year…..

  25. Silence and new year’s eve? What a perfect combination, Kenneth. I have been just by myself last time on new year’s eve in a crowed London…I simply love it, I should do it again.
    My peace is very important even when it condemns to loneliness and silence.

  26. I could not survive without the silence. Before I took ‘early retirement’ I only used to experience it for a few hours on Sunday mornings, and now, since I retired from full time office work, I am lucky enough to be surrounded by it on almost a daily basis.
    It clears my head, nourishes my soul and calms my body.

    I am so lucky.

  27. Verse in Proverbs (can’t remember off top my head but semi quoting) says, “Be still and know that I am God!”

    Therefore, silence is intended to be part of our day, I believe.

  28. Hey there,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and for the like.
    Big Love
    KLove
    XxxMwaaaahhxxx

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