When I was a kid I was a talker. Looking back, I get the impression I was an attention seeking little chatterbox most of the time, getting in trouble in class for talking every day, pissing off my bitter, underpaid teachers with my constant “blah blah blah”, but these days it just ain’t the case. I’ve learnt to shut my mouth. I would prefer to observe humans than to chatter away aimlessly with them… though I generally that depends on the company. Luckily I spend a lot of time around interesting people, so I rarely get stuck in a boring talking-for-the-sake-of-talking thing… but there are those who don’t know when to just shut up. Those who feel silence is awkward, something to be staved off. Those people are silly. There is a lot of stock to be put in not talking, and there is a lot to be said for people who can just relax and be comfortable with silence.
People who can’t handle silence talk for the sake of making sound, but what they are doing is nothing more than creating vapid connections with other people that make their lives more and more meaningless. Language is a fucking treasure, and to waste it on sounds to fill the silence, to use it without much thought or consideration, is a punch in the gut of society.
I’ve found that my workmates and I are able to speak with our eyes a lot of the time, no need for mouth words, no need for unnecessary void filling babble. It comes from working together in this weirdly fun but more often brutal hospitality environment, serving beers to the masses with which they can drown their sorrows; we have a shared knowledge, a connected understanding, an ability to communicate with nods and eye movements and hand gestures. But that is an easy silence: the silence in which communication is still happening. It’s much harder for people to be in the same room as someone else, sitting on the same table as someone else, laying in the same bed as someone else, and not communicate at all. It’s hard, because there is a fine line between that and ignoring. So few people do it, but I think it’s one of the nicest parts about human interaction. A comfortable silence that doesn’t need words.
Listening to music with someone else can be an intense experience. You feel your emotional response, they feel their emotional response, and sometimes it can be awkward, and sometimes it can be beautiful. Take for the song “Total Control” by The Motels for example.
I had never listened to it properly before someone who said it was one of his favourite songs of all time played it to me. We laid there on the bed, not unlike the bed described in the song, listening in silence. Nothing was said, we didn’t move, didn’t move our limbs except to tap in time with the beat, just listened. In silence. Until the fucking saxophone came in and I went “EWWW SAXOPHONE” and he was like “WHAT? YOU DON’T LIKE SAXOPHONE WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?” but then it stopped and then we were quiet again. Now I love that song. If I hadn’t have heard it in that beautiful quiet moment with my friend, I wouldn’t have heard it properly.
We need this calm quiet. Every human being needs a period of rest in this fucking noisy society we live in. Contemporary society is loud. Our eyes are filled with images and words trying to sell us everything all the time, our ears filled with the din of pop songs in supermarkets to keep us moving through the space and looking at all the consumer items, our brains bombarded with all this crap to make us numb to our grey surroundings, make us believe that beauty exists on to be bought and sold and then displayed in our houses, which were bought with money we borrowed because all the noises and images told us it was the best thing to do, the only thing to do because material possession is what counts, disconnect from the origins of our beings because being closer to nature or being true to your human self doesn’t do much for the economy.
Stand on a busy street corner in the middle of the city and shut your eyes. Meditate on yourself, on your body, and let yourself fall into your own mind. With practice, you can shut it out the din, shut out the mindless conversations and the traffic. When you come out, you won’t have any reason to speak unless you absolutely have to, unless you absolutely mean it. Some people will always have more to say than others, but if we keep it meaningful, keep it true and honest and know when not to say anything, we can all be relaxed. The sunset is fucking quiet and fucking beautiful.