Seeking silence and clarity

Published 9:42 pm Thursday, December 26, 2019

Rejoice, for my voice is lost.

At least most of it, that is.

With the gift of a cold — to the unknown gift bearer, thanks — I rang in Christmas Day with my voice at a volume barely above a whisper.


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The day after, typing is still my best form of communication.

I’m sure many are thankful that I can’t speak much, but on the other hand, it has some positive side effects.

For starters, it means that anyone who wants to speak with me has to get close to me. Because they don’t want to catch my cold, it means they leave me alone.

And because of that, it means I get the rarest of rare — silence.

That’s a nice thing to have, even for someone like me who talks as much as he does.

Yes, it’s true. Sometimes I do like to bask in silence. It provides a clarity that can’t often be found in a cacophony of noise.

It’s something I’ve learned to treasure as I’ve gotten older, though I can’t say I always use the silence wisely.

I have a difficult time shutting out the voices in my head from the many conversations I’ve had and the many things I’ve heard over the course of the day. There’s always something to think about, and sometimes, it’s just nice to empty the mind of all thoughts.

It doesn’t often keep me awake, but it doesn’t allow for any peaceful quiet before I get to sleep.

One of the things I like about my daughter’s preschool is that for every program it puts on, it starts each one with a moment of silence. I realize that a moment isn’t long enough, but I think it’s a good start.

Put away the phone, shut down the conversation and social media, shut off the radio or TV.

There’s too much clutter and not enough clarity in those things that fill us with distraction, distortion and discombobulation.

OK, maybe I’m the only one who feels that way.

But I treasure those moments, because it gets me closer to that much-needed clarity.

I do realize I’m part of the problem when I talk more than I listen, and that’s one thing I strive to do better in 2020 — have that clarity, that better vision to find peace in silence and treasure those moments.

It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop talking, especially if that leads me to the many interesting people I’ve been fortunate to meet, and the stories all of you have shared with me — the ones that made it to print, and the ones that I’ve kept in my heart — over the past 11 months in Suffolk.

But it does mean that I’m going to try to be a better listener, and to find more moments of silence to seek out clarity.

Yes, I do realize that it’s nearly impossible to get to true silence. There’s noise all around us — the trains and cars that pass by, the wind that rustles leaves, the humming of electronics in our apartments, our offices and throughout our lives. It’s all around us, and it’s hard to escape.

I do strive, however, to make sure that the noise I make is more joyful and purposeful than jarring and pompous. And that when I can find quiet and solitude, I’m going to treasure those moments.

Just as I’m sure the people around me have treasured my cold-induced silence.

But that, too, will pass.

Rejoice, for my voice will return.