My son and I drove to school this morning in total silence. The sun was rising, and we were both too tired to speak. “Thanks for the ride,” he said as he hopped out of the car. “Have a good day,” I replied. As I pulled away from the high school and admired the soft pink and gold of the dawning day, I felt a sense of peace and realized how powerful silence can be.
Silence can certainly be used as a potent weapon. When a loved one gives me the silent treatment after an argument, I feel abandoned and rejected. My kids have expressed similar feelings when I have refused to respond to whining or a tantrum. In social situations, silence can intimidate. Some of my husband’s colleagues have a tendency during conversation simply to stare at a person and not speak. I have found myself nervously filling the void with inane chatter, feeling like a babbling idiot. One of them once admitted that he consciously uses silence in business situations and said it can be effective when negotiating with the other side.
The real power of silence for me is in the ability to quiet my mind and hear the still, small voice inside of me. In modern society, we are constantly bombarded with sound. The alarm clock wakes us up, we turn on the TV, we blast the radio. We listen to our iPods or iPhones while exercising. Phones ring, babies cry, dogs bark, voices chatter. It’s nice to dwell in silence for a while and plan, solve a problem or just dream.
When I take my daughter to school, we talk practically nonstop until I drop her off at the school door. By this time, I have had my coffee, so I enjoy our conversations and learning what is going on in her head. I wish her a good day too and head home – in silence.