A surgery in my early 20s to remove cysts from my vocal folds resulted in one side becoming permanently paralyzed. It took six months to learn to talk again and then another six months to feel confident in my voice. I compensated by carrying a little notebook and writing my responses down when people needed me to talk. This was long before the cell phone, laptop computer, tablets, iPads, texting, and I found that I could never quite write what I was thinking fast enough to matter in the conversation.
The fact that I could not speak did not make my world silent. It did, however, give me a greater appreciation for silence and the ability to sit back, listen, and allow the world to mix with my soul and dance in my mind. It was in these moments that I felt the most able to process and talk… the most ready to share and listen.
Now I can say with full clarity that there is never a time I am more creative, more aware, and more able than when I am silent. When I am silent everything around me spins into words, words become imagery, and visualization becomes real possibility. I can move from word to word infinitely and I can do so at my own pace and apply them to everything and anything. And I can listen, really listen, to the world around me.
Being alone in your thoughts is often thought to be synonymous with being lonely, depressed, or unsocial. I disagree. I believe that when children, those who talk nonstop and those who are afraid to talk, are given the opportunity to be truly quiet and observant, they are actually being given the opportunity for real awareness. They are observing the world from an unobstructed and secluded mindset that is so far removed from lonely that it actually resides in a place which gives forth joy and self-realization.
In their silence they can play and process and enjoy their world which breaks down into pictures and words in their mind. These words have the power to identify who we believe we are and others believe us to be. They are subject to ridicule and perspective, they are enough and never enough all at the same time, and they know how to move, jive, relish, and hide as we muddle through our day. While words are overwhelming when they are simply noise, they are breathtaking when they make sense and become relevant.
Words and silence go hand in hand and the sooner the world slows down enough to allow our kids to experience the beauty of silence and the happiness they can find in creating their own words at their own speed without having to share, the sooner we will realize that for us, the receiver, it doesn’t matter how this sentence ends.