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The taste of silence
Wait! Just Listen is a weekly Sunday newsletter on living a purposeful and meaningful life, in a digitised world of opinion polarisation, gratuitous commentary and click-bait.
Before I present today’s essay, I feel I need to explain the recent unanticipated pause in new content over the past couple of weeks. I’ve recently assumed a new role (at my day job) which has introduced a feverishly frenetic work and travel schedule. Please bear with me as I formulate a sustainable plan (or something akin to it) going forward. Ironically, this sudden hiatus has coincided with the biggest growth in readership I’ve ever had, which is bizarre and yet reaffirming. Either way, I hope you enjoy today’s heartfelt offering.
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It’s 4am and every living soul has slipped into a deep slumber and all there is to hear is the murmur of my breathing. The pillow doesn't seem to listen to the calls of my weary neck. The silence around me has an air of excitable promise and opportunity.
Over the years, I’ve learnt to appreciate solitude and silence with a level of profundity that escaped my younger self. Imbued in all that is unwritten and unspoken, is a nothingness or absence that carries an indescribable pulsing energy. An energy that drives me to focus within, spurring me on to drink from its well of wisdom no matter how contradictory it may be to mainstream consciousness.
Silence is often splintered in reality, either by our compulsion to fill it with some kind of noise or by presiding material circumstances that disrupt and derange. So it would come as no surprise that one’s induction into the realm of silence can prove to be unsettling without the safety net of everyday distractions - the continuous and chaotic assault of the senses that we’ve grown accustomed to as a natural filler or ‘insurance policy’ for the gaps of time that we have with ourselves.
But it is only in rare moments of deadening silence, when the senses lie dormant, that the nameless voice within, a voice unperturbed by external perception and unburdened by expectation, speaks. It speaks in hushed whispers on things that can be grasped but not described. It reignites emotions, scents and sensations that are uniquely you and yet universally true. This disembodied voice emanates from the lectern of your soul.
The voice gently reminds you that silent meanings matter more than the empty words, because they emanate from a place that is sacred; untarnished by indiscriminate judgement, unmuffled by the shriek of self-righteousness and unsullied by internal self-delusion.
Yet this inner voice only thrives in silence because it is silence that allows thought space to unfold, for contemplative pause to take root. It is the only way to meaningfully converse with the world with unparalleled sincerity. Susan Sontag effortlessly captures the centrality of silence in transcending the limiting materiality of our existence:
“Real silence puts any present understanding to shame; orphans us from certainty; leads us beyond the well-known and accepted reality and confronts us with the unknown and previously unacceptable conversation about to break in upon our lives”
This is our only salvation from servile bondage to the world. Silence is our gateway to the invisible theatre of the self and a preview to the grandeur of our untrammelled nature. Just as how a song becomes melodious because of the pauses it inherits and the subsequent tension that is created between each note, silence carries the potentiality of infinite untrodden paths and countless possible endings. It is the purest form of inward-listening.
Nestled within the tranquil core of silence is a roadmap to navigate through our most perplexed thoughts, some of which defy all logic. The next time you find yourself in a moment of solitude, just remember that we are most powerful in the sanctuary of our own silence, the quintessence of our entire being.