Silence is controversial. A suffocating and undeniable prescence of peace, awkwardness, comfort, and hatred. Yet in the absence of words, I find unending interpretations.
Silence’s controversy—and beauty—lies in the endless words that exist in the lack of “talk”. The english language itself is confined to 26 letters, about 600 000 words, and limited combinations. When you compare our spoken language to the complex human experience, it’s especially clear that our words can only scrape the surface of our lives. This is why silence, in its endless forms, stretches, and contexts, can be even more versatile than a mere 26 letters.
It waxes and wanes in our lives in many different shapes; the bitter stillness between former friends after a falling out, as silence wells up and fills the gaps where friendly chatter should be. Here, silence is cruel. For others, it is uncertain. Uncertain in the painful absence of conversation as you stand stiffly beside an old stranger. More than that, it’s emptiness. The blank walls of your childhood room that scream silence, dripping from the white drywall that used to be adorned with mementos from your life. These negative connotations stick with us more than the positive, tainting its reputation. This is seen in quotes throughout our history, time, and world, such as Guevara’s “Silence is an argument carried on by other means”, and Bernard Shaw’s, “Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn.”
Its beauty is an overlooked phenomenon, because its those small moments of quiet that go unnoticed in a sea of cruel, uncertain, and empty silence. Instead of letting these overwhelm me, I focus on the significance of a still lake, a single breath, and the loving absence of conversation. I embrace its controversy as the chaos of life.