Monday, November 12, 2007

The Sound of Silence

How many people are you comfortable sharing silence with?

I got thinking about this yesterday at the remembrance day service. A large crowd of people (much larger that usual which was nice to see, by the way) standing together in silence.

Single people must be more used to spending time in silence - being by themselves so much. The problem that you come to is that silence is never silent. There is always some noise in the background that sucks your concentration to it. Even your very thoughts become louder. Maybe hearing those thoughts is what some find uncomfortable and need to drown out - with the TV, or radio or iPod or whatever.

Have you ever been in a sporting event where you lost badly - or maybe you've had a fight with the person you're dating? And then the long car ride home. No one wants to speak. The silence is like another person - an angry person who doesn't want to be disturbed. You're even afraid to blink, thinking that the sound of your eyelids would be too loud.

Ever heard of John Cage? He was a composer who wrote a piece of music called 4' 33'' - A piece consisting of a pianist not playing anything - just sitting in silence. I'm sure much of the audience hearing it would not have known how to take it. Was it music? Was it avant-garde art taken too far? What would you have heard if you had been in that theatre?

If you ever find someone that you can share silence with comfortably - you know you've found someone rare.

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