Sunday, August 26, 2012

Practicing Silence

I literally found myself the other day talking to a group of moms about a moth. I stood there, in a group of moms I had never met before and I felt the need to fill the silence, so, I came up with this VERY random statement about a moth. A friend was kind enough to introduce me to a group of women because she knew I did not know anyone. So after all the introductions there was silence, and so I decided to fill it. I specifically said, "When we were leaving a moth flew into our house." Silence. I continued, "I am so glad it was not a wasp." Silence, then the awkward looking around and everyone quietly scattered to other parts of the playground. I just felt this need to fill the silence.

I remember this moment in my life. It is probably one of those moments my dad was not really aware would have affected me to this day. It is one of those moments I probably have had with my own children, when I said something that possibly has crushed them and I did not even realize it, or maybe I did, in anger, but immediately regretted it. I am not sure my dad's reasoning behind it, but it has never left me. And in that moment, I thought I was defective. We were driving in the car just my dad and me. I have no idea where we were going, but I remember him saying, "I wish you were your sister, at least then you would have something to talk about." See, I was comfortable with silence, I was a quiet kid. And my dad also is more introverted, although, apparently not as comfortable with silence. Anyways, he said it, and I am not sure if he meant it or was just frustrated, but it stuck with me. And for years I had struggled with this fault in me, and tried to be more like my sister. To have something to say, to not let their be silence. 

But, I have learned there are moments to listen and others to speak. I have learned silence is not bad. It is definitely better than talking about moths. Sometimes it is in the silence that the most is said and it is necessary for silence to hear. I have learned that like our moms have said "when you have nothing nice to say do not say anything at all." I think I would modify it to say, "if you have nothing to say, don't just say something." Because sometimes when I am talking to fill this defect in me, I might be missing something. Because sometimes in the noise, I just cannot hear. And definitely when I am talking to fill a void I will make a fool of myself. I cannot tell you the number of emails I have sent to people I have met with or friends I have chatted with, apologizing for all the excess words I have said, that were not beneficial or helpful. Words that I used to just fill the silence. Words that I decided to fill instead of listening for their words to fill. And so I will have to continue to practice silence.

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