The pleasures of silence


Silence is something we need more of in our lives. Most of us like to hear noise as much of the time as possible. If we are in the car, we listen to music. If we are at home, most of us have the TV going and the music and the kids in the background playing video games.

Silence is the part of your life when your brain is actually working and you are thinking. What are you thinking about when you are by yourself? In some ideal world, you are thinking about your creative life or your intellectual life or maybe even about big ideas. Or maybe you are just thinking about how you would like to be a better person, that would be good.

If you want to know a person, you have to know what they think about when they are all by themselves. There is that great scene in Sexy Beast, when Don is talking to himself in the mirror. Clearly, he hates himself. Who are you when you are all alone? Do you like yourself? Are you proud of what you have done? Are you proud of how you have treated your parents? Your children?

If you can look in the mirror and feel good, it’s because you are glad for how you have treated your family, your loved ones and of course yourself. We all have regrets. Being human is being aware of how we need to change our lives.

Loneliness is another thing. Loneliness is when you cannot bear your own company. When talking to yourself is like talking to a ghost. Because you feel like a ghost. You can’t remember who you were before you couldn’t recognize yourself. You used be able to be alone and feel good and to think. But you can’t think any more because what’s eats at you is the awareness that you are not what you could be. You are not as big or as important as you would like to be. You don’t matter as you would like to.
How do you avoid being a shadow? A shadow of yourself? I’m no psychologist, no Jungian, so I can only give you the answer I give myself. Which is: Enter the shadow. Be the shadow. Be with the nothing. I am nobody, who are you? Are you nobody too? There’s a pair of us.

Archaic Torso of Apollo
by Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Stephen Mitchell
We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

Published in: on November 7, 2013 at 8:56 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. In silence, I listen.

    Check out this video TED talk by Julian Treasure, as well as his others on sound scapes:

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