It’s cool to be close enough with someone that you can hike for miles in silence without a second thought about it being weird. An hour or so down the trail you pick up where you left off without a cue or reason to resume, as if there wasn’t a lapse.
Friendship is encompassed by embracing each other, and sometimes that means embracing the silence in between. It’s a conversation or situation we’re likely all familiar with: when the success of a relationship is measured by the quantity of communication that transpires between the two people. A lot of values in our society are based on quantity rather than quality. Imagine if we stopped spurting out every somewhat meaningless and insignificant thought that popped into our minds. And no offense, but a lot more than we’d like to admit is insignificant and meaningless.
It’s interesting to look at communication beyond what we see and hear, such as paying attention to what feelings someones presence evokes. That is communication–like a language of the heart. When I am with certain people it makes me feel a certain way, and that transcends verbal communication. Sometimes it doesn’t require anymore than that person just being there. It’s a basic principle of humanity–community evolving into tight knit camaraderie.
I’ve learned a lot on trips in the mountains with friends where we are slogging long distances towards some scary objective. We are doing it together, but we still allow each other the space to draw back into the silence that’s so critical to us without getting insecure about it.
In the trenches of daily life we talk too much. I talk too much. And when living in a society that values too much communication it’s a nice reprieve to enjoy silence in company. We are constantly occupied, and when there is nothing in front of us that immediately distracts us it leaves us to face ourselves. If we’ve been distracting ourselves for a while, a struggle may ensue to cope with that uncomfortable presence that finds us in the quiet.
Those moments are special, because we hold onto things for development. It’s easy to go on tangents and start spouting out undeveloped nonsense and then end up trying to explain something that just turns into incomplete jargon. When we retain thought it begins the creative process. Do you think it’s happenstance that so many people find life changing inspiration alone in nature? Hell no! They are finally alone long enough to pay attention to themselves.
It’s just like in writing, we jot thoughts down as a starting point, but don’t instantly publish them. I’ll develop thoughts into a draft and then revise them into something that makes more sense. I’ll go back through and decide if I want to use an M-dash here, or a semi-colon there, and swap this verb for that. What tense do I want to write in? Sometimes I’ll go back and read one and it doesn’t make sense to me anymore, so I hold back on publishing and continue the drafting process.
This is exactly the deliberate focus I’m talking about, and with each and every thought it brings me back to learning how to embrace silence. It’s difficult to find places where we can experience that silence today, and because of our accessibility to technology we can communicate and broadcast our incomplete thoughts much more frequently. Our world values production, and consumption, and instant gratification. And with instantaneously broadcasting everything that comes to mind we rob ourselves of the opportunity to develop authentic concepts that are original to us.
It’s terrifying to think that I’m afraid to spend quality time with myself and my thoughts. It’s even scarier that I can allow myself to personally atrophy to such a weakened state that my self-worth becomes contingent on others affirming my each and every thought and word.
There’s billions of meaningless 150 character published posts a day, and there’s billions of meaningful ones. I guess I just hope that we can really be deliberate in the thoughts we develop, and the words we choose.
It would be a crying shame if you wasted the last words you ever got to speak to one you love by asking about the weather. It would be even more tragic if you let the ones you love most slip away into dead relationships by limiting your communications with emoji’s and “Like’s” rather than having intimate moments, even if fewer, that are defining and meaningful.