Posted by Paladin on May 11, 2009
I wish I thought of this question, but I read it in a feature article on the acclaimed French actress, Juliet Binoche. She said it was her favorite question to ask fellow artists. In this age of distractions, I find it hard to answer for myself.
I worked from home the other day and with the exception of occasional frenzied barking from my dogs, some phone calls, and beeps from my laptop, I spent the day in relative silence. I emailed my colleague toward the end of the day and said I felt calm. I also felt satisfied with my work day and what I had accomplished.
Calm is not a state many of us are in these days. Whether you’re in a job, worried about your job, or looking for a job, these are stressful times. So what is our relationship with silence? Could examining that relationship and stepping inside of it actually bring us a bit of peace?
A lot my own noise is self-inflicted. I’m on Facebook, carry a BlackBerry and a personal cell, own an ipod, watch TV on demand, and have 2 email accounts that I check constantly. I set up a twitter account but haven’t used it yet. Sometimes the only silence I find myself in are the moments before I fall asleep. My toothbrush even makes noise.
The day I worked from home was a revelation. I got a lot done ( my boss edits this), but seriously, I was focused and efficient. I don’t want to work alone, or retreat from an active, busy life, but I do want the calm I felt at the end of that day, and I’m pretty sure it had to do with the silence I experienced for 8 hours. As I write this in my kitchen, my husband unpacks groceries and makes sandwiches for my daughter and her friend. It’s noisy and hectic one minute and the next it’s quiet again as the girls move to another room to eat and the only sounds now are the humming of a dishwasher. Do we capture the quiet when we can? Do we add our quest for silence to an ever ending to do list like working out, and then feel guilty when we fail to be quiet? Is our technical life too hard to pull away from?
I dont’ know yet, I’m just starting to examine my relationship with silence, the only thing I’m pretty sure of is that like most meaningful relationships, you might not know what you’ve got til it’s gone.