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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Silence

It occurred to me that silence can be thought of in many ways, some of which are seemingly opposites of each other. Contradictory. Which reminds me of a fave poem:
"Do I contradict myself?
Very well then
I contradict myself
I am large, I contain multitudes."
~ Walt Whitman

Silence is golden. Silence speaks louder than words. Deafening silence. Blissful silence. Heartbreaking silence. Restful silence. Screaming silence. Etc.

There's a bucketful of proverbs about silence:
"Silence is a fence around wisdom." ~ German Proverb
"Silence is medication for sorrow." ~ Arab Proverb
 "To silence another, first be silent yourself." ~ Latin Proverb 
 "Silence was never written down." ~ Italian Proverb 
 "We must have reasons for speech but we need none for silence." ~ Proverb 
 "Silence is also speech." ~ Proverb 
"When money speaks, the truth is silent." ~ Russian Proverb 
"A silent mouth is sweet to hear." ~ Irish Saying

And a plethora of quotes about silence:
"Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content." ~ Helen Keller

"Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment." ~ Henry David Thoreau

"You will find that silence or very gentle words are the most exquisite revenge for insult." ~ Judge Hall

"To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men." ~ Abraham Lincoln

"Silence is one of the great arts of conversation." ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

"The world would be happier if men had the same capacity to be silent that they have to speak." ~ Baruch Spinoza 

"Silence is the wit of fools." ~ Anatole France 

"Let us be silent, that way we may hear the whispers of the gods." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Some days we just need to turn the quiet up." ~ Dr. SunWolf

"We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls." ~ Mother Teresa

And the beat goes on...

I have personally related to silence in many of the above ways at various times in my life. Meditation is one of my favorite ways to partake in blissful silence. Walking and simply spending time in nature is another. 

But looking at silence in a way that's particularly poignant for me right now is the realization that just because I've been invited (even unto being goaded) to argue, debate, or join in on something that will result in nothing short of a negative confrontation does not mean I have to. I can choose to stay silent if that's presently the best route for me. I can even walk away. Kenny Rogers' tune has been ringing in my ears of late: "You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run." Learning discernment is one of my many lessons I continue to learn about in this lifetime. Speaking only for myself, sometimes silence truly is the best way to react; the best answer. Silence gives me time to think things over. Silence gives me a chance to decide if silence is the best answer AFTER thinking things over. 

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