They are words that are bigger than their meaning. Some words can be harsh and frightening as well as soothing even loving. It all depends on how it is said. By virtue of the inflection or the volume, even the speaker can give the meaning of the word an entirely different connotation.
Let me set up a scenario. A young child is walking through a dark and foreboding forest. She can see a light ahead and knows that she’ll be safe momentarily. And then she hears a voice and one single word. It stops her in her tracts. The word is spoken loudly by a deep guttural voice. All sound is cut off sharply the moment the word is spoken and it fills her with terror. The word? Silence!
Different scenario. Two boys are in a library and they are misbehaving. A whispered, even hissed, single word stops them in their tracks. It is spoken by a frustrated, perhaps harried retiree. The word? Silence.
And just for fun, one more scenario. A young man and his beautiful bride have just left their raucous wedding guests. They’re looking forward to their first night as husband and wife. They race for the door to their suite. They burst into their room and she falls across the bed laughing. He leans against the door panting. He looks at the beautiful woman across from him and utters one word, grinning like a Cheshire cat. That word? Silence . . .
Same word, same meaning, different implication. Don’t you just love the English language? Precise it ain’t!
This little foray into the wonderful world of words was inspired by Linda G Hill. And doesn’t she just inspire a lot of us. This one’s for you Linda!
Silence speaks louder than words.
Do you ever sit in a quiet room and listen, I mean truly listen? Close your eyes and pay attention. I can hear the wind off my balcony gently blowing through the trees. I can hear my refrigerator humming its ubiquitous sound of cold. I can hear the highway and a steady drone of cars whizzing by. A bird, a gull I think, probably searching for lunch, loudly. There’s a banging, somebody doing construction. Oh yes and a car horn screeching its presence. Oops, a car alarm screams in protest, at what I do not know. A truck backs up punctuating the world with his irritating beep, beep, beep, beep…
You see I believe true silence is illusory. Even when a room is deathly quiet it is not silent. Spend some time in a library. It is one of the noisiest places that advocates silence. Listen carefully. The librarian is admonishing someone for something. Someone else is on the phone directing someone to the appropriate department. With the advent of computers there is a constant clicking of the keyboards. I can hear pages turning, sometimes in anger. There is the irritated sigh as someone looks for a book but cannot find it. Pages rustle and footsteps clack on the uncarpeted floor. There is no silence here.
Once upon a time our world was much quieter. We didn’t have cars and computers and the ever present hum of electricity. Our nights were darker, we didn’t have the light pollution of all the towns around us. I believe as a people we were calmer. Now we want more and more. No matter what we have we crave new and better. What is that? What is it the psychobabble of the day is saying: relax, chill, be cool. Well it’s true! We live noisy and harried lives. We rarely seem to take the time to stop and smell the roses. Even when we relax it’s doing something energetic and noisy. Ah yes, the sounds of silence: the ever present white noise that surrounds our lives. I just heard that they actually sell machines that emit white noise because it is often difficult to sleep when things are too quiet.
I wonder if we would know what to do if all sound stopped. I wonder if people who are completely deaf actually experienced true silence? All I know is that my world is noisy and sometimes irritating and I love it all!