“Find the Language”

Linking up with Amanda at Habit of Being – November prompt-a-day

There are different kinds of silence. As a Yoga teacher I know this. The hush of a room full of students moving in unison with their breath, the no-sound after a sustained chant, the concentrated stillness of the mind when during meditation thoughts grudgingly, fleetingly stop. Yes, there is a time for words, thoughts, language… and there is a time for silence.

Words: the relentless daily onslaught of sound. From the youngest’s still-dark morning, “I want mokie” to his last half-willing, half-reluctant “no, I don’t waaaant to go to bed,” my day is embroidered with those words. The children talk, oh do they talk. Three high-pitched voices giggling, arguing, scheming, reading, singing. And my own voice. An American baseline underpinning those Welsh melodies. I talk all day, talking with my children, talking at them at times, mentoring them as they learn, helping them to heal their squabbles, shepherding them over the rolling hills of family life.

There are times when I crave silence. I am like the Soundkeeper in The Phantom Tollbooth:

“Isn’t that lovely?” she sighed. “It’s my favourite programme– fifteen minutes of silence– and after that there’s a half-hour of quiet and then an interlude of lull.

Silence, quiet, lull: I want to savour it all. Some days I feel I have used up all of my allotted words for the day by 3 o’clock. Instead, I want to feel my feet pounding the pavement on a long country run. I want to enjoy the inflation and settling of my lungs during meditation. I want to stir a bowlful of brownie batter with zero commentary, zero eggshells in the mix, zero little hands smearing it down their tummies.

skate park

It is not escape that I long for, but quiet camaraderie; I want them to know the nourishing value of quiet too. How wonderful it would be for all our hearts to soar with the exhilaration of silent presence in this moment. It’s there momentarily as we walk through the woods, or in the breath I take before I begin to read them a story, or when we have taken a first bite of a long-awaited meal. I recall the heartbeat’s moment of silence after each of them were born—that moment before breath animated their lungs in a healthy, lusty bawl. That moment when I saw them and knew them before they’d even inhaled with their own little lungs the air that I breathe now. A silence like no other. A moment permanently seared into my memory in high definition.

Most days I feel as though we tumble out of our front door like clowns from a VW. My youngest children especially have little need for silence: they fill the day with the sounds of their chatter and laughter and aren’t even quiet when they have mouths filled with food. We are a noisy, brassy family that laughs and leaps, argues and makes up. On the one hand I pity our neighbours; on the other I love our family just the way it is.

Silence. Maybe it’s an adult thing. As the eldest gets older I see her need for quiet growing. One day we will all find the language of silence. But for now, it’s words, words and more words. Somebody pass the earmuffs.

©Lisa Hassan Scott 2013.

Many thanks to Amanda for providing short daily prompts for writing and sharing them on Twitter with #writealm and on her WriteAlm Facebook page.

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Finding the Language of Silence
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11 thoughts on “Finding the Language of Silence

  • 08/11/2013 at 3:45 pm
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    I have always enjoyed silence but find I need more, crave more the older I get. And yes, my eldest is following in her mother’s footsteps too while the rest seem to be following in their father’s very loud footsteps.

    • 08/11/2013 at 3:52 pm
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      Hi Amanda,
      Maybe there is an allotted word count, not for the day, but for a lifetime… the older I get, the more silence I need. Perhaps that’s because I’m running out of words.

      Most people who know me would say that I am ‘talkative.’ But that need for silence is much more a ‘need’ than a want.

      Thank you again for providing the prompt,
      Lisa

  • 08/11/2013 at 4:44 pm
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    It’s so good to hear your writing voice again, Lisa!

    I so understand this. I craaaaave silence. Or even just a little but less volume. I constantly hear myself saying “could mummy just have 2 minutes of quiet to think about…” or “could you please turn your volume down.” But as my dad often tells me, it’s easier to quieten oneself once one has found one’s voice than to find that voice after having been silenced. Or words to that effect! So I know that as much as I would like silence, I have to let them speak.

    • 08/11/2013 at 5:37 pm
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      Thank you Kirsten, for sharing your experiences and your father’s wisdom. I’m glad to be back to writing, when and if it fits in with the rest of life’s demands. I appreciate your encouragement.

  • 08/11/2013 at 6:45 pm
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    I have drilling earprotector earmuffs and I can still hear my lot through them and the wall! 🙂

    • 08/11/2013 at 7:47 pm
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      Clearly they’re not working for you; send them here and I will test them for you 😉

  • 09/11/2013 at 3:32 am
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    This was really lovely! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  • 10/11/2013 at 6:31 pm
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    Lovely to read more from you again Lisa 🙂

    I empathise! We have ‘jibber, jabber, jibber, jabber’ a lot of the time here, often culminating with my raised voice asking for some peace and quiet. So I do hear you, (pardon the pun!). I guess I try to enjoy it as much as I can and imagine those faraway school/university days when perhaps the house will be a lot quieter, when sob! I will miss the noise.

    Anyway, hope you find some time for stillness and quiet in your day, yes, it is a need. And I love the quote from The Phantom Tollbooth!

    Thank you again 🙂

    • 10/11/2013 at 8:02 pm
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      Have you ever read The Phantom Tollbooth? It’s a classic from my childhood and I am enjoying sharing it with my children now as our current bedtime story. It seems so much richer upon re-reading it, and yet I really enjoyed it as a child too.

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment for me. Your encouragement means a lot,
      Lisa

  • 11/11/2013 at 6:13 pm
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    No I haven’t read that book, but I’ll put it on our list of ‘to-reads’. Always lovely to have word-of-mouth recommendations for books. You’re welcome (about the encouragement I mean). Just think you have an innate talent for expressing your thoughts in words, and so the more you practise the better you’ll get 🙂
    Best, M x

    • 11/11/2013 at 8:45 pm
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      Thanks Marija, and let me know how you enjoy the book.
      Love,
      Lisa

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