“Silence is about rediscovering, through pausing, the things that bring us joy.”
On a rainy grey day in a small Irish bookstore, I came across a little book. It was wrapped in a light-blue cover with an almost translucent silver-colored title. Silence, it read. Silence in the Age of Noise. I was intrigued. The author Erling Kagge is a Norwegian explorer. He was the first person to reach the South Pole alone. He also has been to the North Pole and summited Mount Everest.
Silence seems nearly extinct in our world of noise. The music in the shopping aisle, the restaurant, and public bathrooms, or even in the dentist chair. The traffic noise and machinery. Noise to keep ourselves occupied and make us feel a little less alone. The internal noise of our thoughts that drown out any quiet. How and where do we learn to be comfortable with silence? Moreover, why is it important?
Great music and poetry work with silence, the dramatic pauses before the next tone, the next word. In the same way, pauses and silence in a conversation are as significant as the words spoken. Listening deeply, to others as well as ourselves, is about silence. The intimate moments of silence are like invisible threads that weave and hold together the truth of what truly matters. When we feel disconnected, or people are vulnerable and hurt, silence can take on a much deeper meaning. In moments of silence, what truly matters has a chance to emerge. Silence asks us to be comfortable within ourselves; to re-connect with ourselves when we got too far away from us. Being able to sit silently and comfortably in the presence of others who are struggling can be a quiet comfort to them.
Kagge writes about the silence we can find around us, the silence within us, and the silence we must create to discover the world’s magic. Going to Poles can teach us about silence. However, perhaps I don’t need to go to the extremes ends of the earth to learn about the power of silence. I can sit and allow my mind to settle in the quiet space of meditation right here in my room, or outside on a bench on a sunny, calm day. I can sit quietly anywhere, even on a busy city bus. Silently being, watching the natural flow of my breath, and watching my thoughts come and go without running after them, I learn to be in awe of the magic of this world; to listen and be fully present in it.