A few days ago, someone on the Book of Face linked to this poem by Dorianne Laux, of whom I’d never heard. But I’m going to have to check into her work at the next disposition of disposable income (so to speak), because this…it speaks to me. Which strikes me as odd, since it’s about silence.
Anyone who knows me, knows how much I like a good conversation. The kind that rambles and roams, shifts and swirls like water over rocks and under arching roots, that teaches and learns and casts a warm glow over everyone involved. I will, given half a chance, do my fair share of talking, but I am — and this may be bragging a bit but it’s a talent and so why not? — a very good listener. I learned long ago to listen, rather than wait for it to be my turn to talk again. 🙂 There are people to whom I would gladly listen for hours. And people have told me, now and again when I express the thought that maybe I’m taking more than my fair share of the convo, or that I’m the curse of all conversation, boring!, that no I’m not, that…well, one person actually used the word “riveted”.
Heady stuff, that. 😉
And yet, the pauses can be, and often are, integral to the health of the conversation. The times you stop to absorb what’s been said, fit it into your worldview, find those places where maybe it doesn’t quite fit and so perhaps that’s the seed for the next round of talk.
But as the poem says, there are times when there’s been enough, of talk, of music to fill the spaces, and silence gets its turn. The silence no one is in a hurry to fill. A comfortable and companionable silence that says as much about the people sharing it as any number of words. It takes practice to accept a silence without indulging the urge to fill it with sound — or learning to let go of that urge entirely.
It’s a different kind of silence than when you’re by yourself. I found, during that time when Steve was my roommate, that I needed the silence, the solitude I no longer had, but on the other hand, I spend so much time in my own company for all sorts of reasons that I get tired of that sort of silence. No, give me more of the silence between the words and the music.
Because it is a good thing.