Ode to Silence
Would you be bold enough to say: “I don’t have nothing to say”?
These days, I’ve come to realise that most of us, most of the time, is not. No matter if silence falls on the streets due to the lockdown, if we are forced to slow down because we can’t rush around like we are used to. The noise is in our heads and the urge is in our feet. We must say something; we must do something. And the digital can’t help but amplify this exhausting attempt to leave the light on when, in fact, we should be resting our eyes.
At the very beginning we were told not to stop. Then we were told to stop, but to make the best out of this “break” to become a better version of ourselves, to recover all the time lost. I remember thinking, with a certain astonishment, that we are not given permission to pause even when everything else does. Truth is that, during this quarantine, I wasn’t feeling like sharing, connecting, improving. I was seeking to put things on hold, stay still, remain silent. Sometimes I felt like I would not have said a word for days, if I could. And, in fact, I couldn’t, as I was working remotely and living in a family of five, two things I was (and I am) hugely grateful for. Was self-isolation worsening my sociopathy (I am actually quite a friendly gal, if you ask around)?
It wasn’t. Being away from the madding crowd was, simply, making me more aware. This continuous urge we have to feel heard, engaged, ahead of the game is because we are not keen to accept that life goes on despite ourselves. Now, if we think about it, this is a great deal of dismay for our ego. That same ego whose contours we see blurred if we are not standing in the spotlight or on the frontline. Then, a feeling comes in waves: what a luxury it would be to step back, to leave the room, once in a while.
viene voglia di sdraiarsi
proprio in mezzo
che qualcuno gentile ti tocchi la spalla e dica
il mondo è finito, signore
se ne può andar.
[E i gatti, di Stefano Benni]
What a relief it would be for all those who feel like carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, when they are actually only carrying their own. That is the moment when you see that the world keeps spinning even if you are not there to push it; that is the place where you see that problems are smaller than you thought. There is a key concept in Japanese Zen philosophy which is
that means pause, intermission, void. This is an “element” that the Zen uses, and pursues, continuously in all its forms of expression, as it is thought that absence is not less significant than presence. So here is a call to be brave enough to be less, give less, say less. Be bold enough to say “I have nothing to say”, nothing to add. If you are good enough, you can subtract, reduce, leave a gap. For life to fill in. All of a sudden, you might find yourself being more, giving more. Your words would become heavier and your heart lighter.
These conclusions drawn may confirm I am a bit sociopathic, or – rather – that I am a step closer to happiness.
By Carola Chiarlitti