I HONESTLY THINK September 2014 - Page 84

DOES SILENCE REALLY HAVE TO BE AWKWARD?

I’m currently reading a book about silence - a bizarre subject one might think?

Strangely, this book has evoked more questions from strangers on the London underground then when my friends and I were dressed up as Crayons on a random Wednesday night.

In light of this profound find, you will understand why I was shocked that people are reaching out to strangers for answers to the noise in their lives. In everyday life we all seem to be juggling different situations: work promotions, love lives, weddings, friendships,

family life - an endless list of responsibilities. There are so many things to balance, different obligations pulling you in various directions. How do we strive towards simplifying our lives and cutting out the unnecessary noise?

Seeking silence was once linked to sending oneself to a nunnery, finding religion or inner peace. This idea has now evolved where finding silence is something we look forward to and often fuels our decisions for holiday destinations. The popularity of the holiday retreat has grown over the past five years, offering stress reduction, detoxes and calming treatments, suggesting we are all looking for opportunities to escape our busy lives.

In a society where silence is often viewed as awkward, we no longer think it’s strange to hear about our work colleague’s retreat to Bali where they found the time to finish off their novel or finally got round to reading the end of a book. In fact, hearing stories of yoga lessons overlooking freshwater lakes and picking breakfast from orange trees makes us feel far removed from

awkwardness and actually moves us to envy.

Living in London, I rarely find myself with an empty weekend; there is always a party to go to, a new bar opening or a friend’s birthday to attend. On the rare occasions when upon opening my calendar I find an event free weekend, an ebullient smile creeps across my face. You may think me odd not wanting a social life that weekend but the prospect of having free time to myself was actually quite exciting.

In answer to one of my fellow commuters questions: ‘What does silence mean to you?’ It means time, time to focus on the things I want to do. Finding the silence to answer the niggling question that kept me awake at 3am last week.

Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island is a perfect piece of literacy that sums up why silence can be productive and rewarding: ‘For the tiniest moment in the span of eternity you have the miraculous privilege to exist...that you are able to sit here right now in this one never-to-be-repeated moment, reading this book, eating bon-bons, dreaming about hot sex with that scrumptious person from accounts, speculatively sniffing your armpits, doing whatever you are doing - just existing - is really wondrous beyond belief.’

Silence can give you time to reflect and make you realise what you want in your life. Silence no longer has to be awkward; it should be a tool we use to enrich our lives. It can help us make decisions, answer difficult questions, notice things we don’t have the time to appreciate.

Silence can truly be golden, give it a chance - you might hear

something.

Sarah Rae