There is beauty in silence, or so I have always believed. I never knew snow made noise when it fell until the unending thrum of our electronic world stopped abruptly one harsh winter morning. It was a heavy wet snow that knocked out our power and brought the world around me to a grinding and blissfully silent stop. I stepped outside in the crisp wintry wonderland to revel in the beauty of a world renewed. A world that felt in its pristine whiteness less fallen; less corrupted. Less dark. Less imposing than it did on every other day. I expected to hear nothing. Instead I heard the snow and the gentle sound it made as it lazily travelled from its heavenly source to the world below. This was no blizzard. It was a gentle, heavy waltz of nature. White and wonderful.
This new sound I had added to my repertoire was a glorious discovery; one I never would have made were it not for the silence of the rest of the world around me. I have often asked people since that day if they knew snow made noise when it fell. I have yet to hear a single person answer with a definitive ‘yes’. The usual response is a mixture of incredulity and disbelief; as though my goal in posing such a question is to make the other person appear to be a fool. It certainly is not my intent. I long only to share a miracle and a moment.
I often seek the silence because in the quiet comes clarity and inspiration. I live in a world of words. I am a writer. I have loved the written word since my beginning. It is in the marrow of who I am. But my words get jumbled sometimes and unwieldy, so I seek the stillness to help me find that certain something which I cannot find in the chaos of my mind…..peace.
I always thought the silence I sought was an absence of sound. An absence of words. A place where I can see everything but hear nothing. In truth, it is merely a place where chaos has little room to flourish. It is in truth a place of quietude. A place where my words are unhindered and disentangled by the constraints of the world and its worries. When the chaos dies down and my mind begins to quiet, I can once again find the beauty in the words I love so much. The quietness that is not truly empty, becomes my refuge and my place to reconnect with the unending possibilities that become my solace. I find a certain magic in this stillness which enables me to rediscover the hidden miracles of the world around me like the sound the snow makes when it falls to the ground.
I have been told before that one day, the world will not need people like me. Writers….manipulators of the written word. The world has technology and pictures in an endless array of digital formats. In such a world, words are meaningless. They have no place. No real value. As everyone knows, a picture is worth a thousand words. I would say that in some cases, this is true. Who hasn’t been moved or inspired by the images of great moments in history like Pearl Harbor, D-Day, and 911? Who doesn’t cherish the memories of a moment shared, captured in the image of a photograph to be remembered for all time? We honor our images with frames; we celebrate their whimsy in calendars, cups, tee shirts, and a myriad of products. They make us smile, laugh, and cry, often without a single word spoken. There is beauty in the simplicity of an image and elegance in its silent message.
I would however say one simple thing to challenge that age old saying which makes us believe where photos exist, words are not needed anymore. True silence is a double-edged sword. No image can fill the void that is left when the words cease to come; when the silence envelopes you so completely, there is nothing left. When there is silence…when there are no words any more, the images only remind you of what no longer exists. The silence is complete. There is no peace there; only chaos.
So what am I saying in my exploration of silence and sound? Images and words? Only this. There comes a day for all of us when we are left with nothing more than silence in the room around us and the images of the ones we love. The images are no comfort. They cannot replace the words of love that are spoken no more. The silence is complete in all its wicked intensity. Never fail to cherish the moments when the words pour forth in blissful abundance. Relish the quiet moments, but share them always with the ones you love, for they too may long to hear the sound the snow makes as it travels from its heavenly source to the world below. Not every moment requires a barrage of sound, but do not embrace the silence until its time.
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