Necessary Silences

“Silence is of different kinds, and breathes of different meanings.” – Charlotte Bronte

A few weeks ago, I was reminded by a friend, when expressing my frustration with writer’s block and stillness and other forms of utter boredom, that life is not always an adventure, that there are quiet moments and down times and that there are supposed to be.  Lately though, and perhaps I am just a sorry product of this instant gratification society, I have been relentlessly searching for the thrill of life.  So much so, that I rarely sit still.  I am, more often than not, living life in the hopes that something vivid and electrifying is going to happen at any moment and should happen and then, when it doesn’t (or sometimes even if it does), I’ve been told that I get all sorts of “poo poo” about it.  How’s that for living life without expectations?!?

Recently, another friend, who is just out of a long-term relationship, discussed with me the movement in his life from parents to roommates to girlfriends to spouses to now being home alone.  He doesn’t have any children so cooking-for-one is a daily grind for him.  I lie.  I do.  He doesn’t actually eat at home because as he stated “it’s actually the first time, I guess, at thirty-seven, that I’ve really been on my own.”   This seemingly simple, but new-to-me perspective really resonated with me.  I had never thought of it that way, but I am in the same boat.  I do have my son, and when he is here he is definitely company, but, at thirty-six, I have never really been on my own. And, like him, instead of sitting with myself and with my solitude, I prefer the company of others, the comfort and exhilaration of socializing, and the excitement of a possible unexpected delight. My calendar is always full.

And, I am deathly afraid.

In Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote “… love your solitude and bear with sweet-sounding lamentation the suffering it causes you.”  I’ve always liked this line, underlined it in my copy of the book, but always took it to mean to love the feeling of loneliness that your oddness, uniqueness, your talent, even your depression, brings you.  To learn to love the solitude and pain that comes of your inevitable difference from others.   I think my recent on-my-owness has added another layer of meaning to Rilke’s statement:  that silence, that loneliness, that independence even, is, or at least can be, synonymous with suffering.  And, since, lately, I seem to be scared shitless of suffering, I am also afraid of silence and of, perhaps, myself. I absolutely have lost touch with the ability to just sit with, and face, plain me.

So, in this realization, I know that I must push into those potentially dark woods again (although they are probably not as dark as I think they are going to be), and face the silence in life and abandon, at times, the buzz of adventure.  I need to learn to dance in the living room alone and not always in the front of a room.  (While I do not consider my dancing exhibitionism, I must wonder why I rarely indulge in it in isolation of others.  Expressionism, I hope?)  I need to begin to read again and learn to rub my own shoulders and to enjoy a mug of tea in a hot bath with nothing but jazz serenading me.  There were probably many of times in the past when this sounded divine, and now, for whatever reason, it has been something I have been avoiding.  What is it about me, about silence, that seems so unbecoming?  Silence is supposed to be golden and I am a great gal.

I suppose my quest for human contact, be it with old friends or new ones, is stemming from the fear that I am, as I am still, a year later, feeling the coldness of coming out of a long-term partnership, and don’t want to be alone.  In loneliness, stripped of the roles of wife and, when my son is not here, mother (although we are never fully stripped of that), I do not know who I am.  And, the not-knowingness, the limbo of self, frightens me.  I am, I fear, not ready to take the next step in an unavoidable transformation.  I am, again, seeking outside approval and affirmation and am living in avoidance and denial.  There, phew, wow, I said it.

Still, however, I must recognize that silence is necessary for growth, and, probably, for survival, and, apparently, according to Mother Theresa, to achieve real connection and intimacy: “See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence, see the stars, the moon and the sun, and how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

So, what to do but to make dates with myself?  Make those romantic dinners-for-one that I bragged about in an earlier post that resulted in bouquets of flowers on my doorstep.  Indulge in my writing.  Get dance crazy in my living room.  I must not only dare myself to do these things but must insist upon it.  Antoine de Saint Exupery wrote (as I kill you with another quote!): “I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing.  Yet, through the silence, something throbs and gleams…”

I must find my sand dune, and without any real expectations, see what throbs and gleams.




  1. Andrea said,

    October 19, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Great post and revelation! Do it! Right now a silent bath with jazz would rock for me!

  2. carol said,

    October 20, 2013 at 9:23 am

    I love you AND your musings on our crazy life! Keep that brain moving, it keeps it from rusting, atrophy and becoming the weird cat lady sitting in the recliner with a lot of dust motes/cat dander collecting on your glasses. Your anguish is your fire that will shape your steely creativity. KEEP IT UP!

  3. slysummaries said,

    October 30, 2013 at 5:32 am

    Love this quest and Rilke.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: