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Monday, December 14, 2015

Theodore Roethke

Many of us are afraid of silence. We have a need to fill the the air waves with noise — television, radio, music. And for those living in cities there are the sounds of cars, trucks, sirens, airplanes and neighbors fighting. We don't feel comfortable when the conversation dies and we are left with silence.  We rush to fill the void. We experience silence as emptiness. 

I enjoy external silence because it allows me to think. Silence allows me to explore the backroads of my mind. Silence releases my creativity. But I rarely experience internal silence. Even when I sleep my mind is filled with dreams.  My thoughts are always bubbling to the surface, brandishing their weapons. 

When I teach people to speak in public, I talk to them about the importance of silence — of learning the pregnant pause, of giving your audience the time to catch up with your words. Storytellers understand the power of silence. We must learn to appreciate silence, to enjoy its many flavors. Sometimes we can learn more from silence than the words spoken or written.

Can you hear the silence when you are painting? Do you listen to the silences between the words that you write?