Monday, June 25, 2012

When the conversation goes silent

Silence is an interesting phenomenon in a conversation. It's a sort of keystone: everything else leans on the silence and changes according to its quality.  We teach people something of how to talk and sometimes even something of how to listen, but there is no teaching on how to be silent together.

Silence is either the most excruciatingly awkward thing that can happen to a conversation or the sign that the conversation is deep and wide and wonderful. And we shy away from both. We shy away from the wonderful conversations because we are not sure what can measure up to the moments of full, rich silence or because we are afraid that the silence will ring so clear that we will reveal something, somehow, that we didn't mean to reveal. We are afraid because change happens in the silence.

And yet, it's the fear at the top of the roller coaster, the fear of taking the first step onto stage, the fear before the whistle blows and the game begins. The fear that is also a hope that if we can share silence, we can share anything and if we can endure silence, we can never be silenced. We are afraid that we will not be good enough for a shared silence and we are afraid that we will find out that we are better than we thought.




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