This is often how the “progress reports” from my elementary school teachers read. Of course they didn’t quite word them that way, but amidst all of the “Joanna-is-doing-everything-well” reporting was—without fail—some mention of my amazing gift of gab and how it would be desirable if I were to get it under control.
Hello, my name is Joanna and I am a talkaholic. However, I have recently discovered the true value of Silence. Not the I’m-taking-a-VOW-of-silence kind of silence… (sorry everyone) but the “Silence Is Golden” kind of silence. We’ve all heard the famously-quoted proverb a thousand times and although the origin of the phrase remains a mystery—for one who is addicted to words and sounds—those 5 syllables carry a tremendous amount of weight.
Let me share with you how I stumbled across this treasure. In an effort to achieve some semblance of sanity, I have made it a personal goal to get more sleep. I’ve been going to bed earlier and relaxing by writing in my journal or reading rather than watching TV. But the TV is usually STILL on in the background. I don’t know why… for some reason I find it comforting to hear the familiar voices of 4 friends (let’s call them Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer) sitting around a coffee shop or a tiny New York apartment bemoaning the minutia of their existence. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
The other night I decided to turn the TV off and read in total silence. And although it was a bit foreign to me at first, it was completely wonderful! So wonderful, in fact, that it felt absolutely luxurious! Who knew silence could be this enjoyable? Besides my family, boyfriend and friends. For a moment, I put the book down and just listened to the nothingness that surrounded me. I took a deep breath, soaking in as much as possible as though this sheer state of nirvana could be stored. I knew that all too soon—with the nagging of the alarm clock—this beautiful quiet would be shattered by the noise of life in the digital age.
Now, I’m not a twitterer, which is surprising given how much I like to talk, write, converse, chit-chat, chew the fat, stay in the loop, laugh, giggle, whisper, yell, shout, sing and just be heard in general. But with the help of twitter, not to mention all other forms of social media, smart phones, iPods, radio, cable and the internet… not only are we in touch with one another 24/7… we are surrounded by constant sound as well. So it’s perfectly understandable that the absence of noise was such music to my ears!
Every evening across America, it is not uncommon for the typical household to have the TV (or TVs) blaring and computer glowing while talking or texting is taking place. We can literally be catching up on the news, watching football on ESPN and the dramatic story of a woman scorned on Lifetime… while simultaneously communicating with multiple people in multiple ways. We can be texting, chatting, instant messaging, emailing, writing on walls, poking, tagging and twittering all at once. And this is what we are doing with our DOWN time… never mind what we encounter during the workday.
It’s no wonder we’re all stressed out and hopped up on antidepressants. And don’t be salty with me for saying that. (Which kind are YOU taking?) If you aren’t taking anything yet—give it time. At the rate we’re going… you will be. Unless, that is, you take the time to stop and listen… to the sound of silence.