Friday, April 12, 2013

Listen to Silence and Appreciate its Answer!...

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you're alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”
~Norton Juster

A couple of days ago, I was truly aggravated that someone had chosen to invade my moment (my privacy, my quiet space) by wanting to engage in an uninvited conversation. Granted, I was sitting by myself on a barstool at Starbucks (you can’t be any more public than that), yet, not on the phone, and not reading a book… I was simply sorting things out, while enjoying my “grande skinny vanilla latte.”
So many times we completely miss the boat. We prejudge; we assume - with the quickness - what someone else needs, as if we have all the answers. We sit in judgment of what other people do with their time, and contemplate how to enrich their moments. Our brains analyze the visual aspect of a situation, and suddenly we assume that we know the why, how and the solution. All this we’ve conquered, even before we are made aware of what we are stepping into or looking at. And that’s why it is hard for us to understand silence… others’ need for silence.

Silence is the opportunity for me to spend some time with myself. I come from a very large family of 11 kids. Granted, we never lived on top of each other and there was always space and opportunity to be alone, but even while alone, you always knew there was someone around. While I wasn’t a recluse (far from it actually J), I was still very selective about who I would spend my time with and how much time I would allot them. When I didn’t want to be bothered, I would start to write in my journals, or read for hours on end. I’d listen to the whispered messages that my mind sent my consciousness, and listen to all the questions my mind had stored up about myself. I learned to ignore the noise, my surroundings, and I spend a lot more time listening to silence. I was listening to the answers silence gave me. With age, I now realize that it is a necessity. Silence allows us to truly pause, reflect and appreciate the situations we are in for what they are.
Don’t we all like to just be our own company at times?

Silence is a funny thing… When you learn to appreciate it, you also learn when it is required from you… at least most of the time.
Silence has taught me the value of that difference. So much can be said in silence. Silence can simple mean, “I understand and support you.” Silence can simply indicate that we need to think, think and think some more for ourselves. Silence can mean fear. Silence is guided by circumstances. Silence can be a reflection of sadness or happiness. Silence is at times, the best answer to complex questions. I personally find it disturbing when people feel the need to fill every moment with meaningless comments and conversation. I like to surround myself with people who have mastered the art of enjoying comfortable silence. I have been called rude, anti-social, and an introvert because my timing is not always appropriate, but far from me to be that person… I simply like to listen to my thoughts and my feelings… to have some “me time.”

So many times friends want you to be their shoulder to lean on; they want you to be the person they confide in. And while on occasion what’s needed is advice, opinions and conversation, sometimes your silent presence is what’s mostly appreciated. We all should bear in mind that listening is sometimes worth more than any advice you can share. One of the great paradoxes in life is that we humans are so much alike in so many ways, yet we are as different as different can be…we are individuals.

While we naturally want to advise and help, we have to listen first. Listen and read the clues of what the person needs rather than jumping in with advice and opinions right away.
Stop working on your response while someone is still speaking! Don't interrupt and just listen, you may be surprised at what is actually said and what it actually means and what they actually need from you. Your history and experience may tell you one thing is true, but another's history makes for a different truth. So that is why listening to silence will give you answers you will appreciate and your friends will value.


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