“I don’t get it,” I confessed.
My friend who seriously had the patience of a saint repeated again, “This is a quarter rest. Your fingers do not do anything. They rest. You do not play any note or key.”
I was baffled. I thought sounds were to be heard, listened, and savored. How can there be a sound in silence? How could the fingers rest and do nothing while still doing something as evoking emotions?
She pointed to the squiggly lightning bolt and explained, “Silence is a sound, too. It is probably one of the most powerful sounds.”
I gazed pensively at the sheet music of Mozart’s “Eine Klein Nachtmusik,” which was full of lightning bolts that startled and enraptured me. Something so small and simple that required so little and, in fact, no movement from fingers had such an impact.
“Listen,” she instructed.
I stared upwards as I oddly always do when I play the piano. I closed my eyes. I was learning that music was not what you played, but what you felt. I felt more when I closed my eyes—when I slept, when I prayed, when I laughed, when I cried, when I was contemplating deeply, and when I was wrapped in serenity. By all means, I sucked theoretically with music, but I was stunned at how much joy and peace I felt when I practiced and played piano now.
She played “Eine Klein Nachtmusik” methodically following the quarter rests and then not following them at all.
“Do you hear and feel the difference?”
I opened my eyes. Yes, I did.
I was rewound back in time to when I was a little girl that had experimented without any ill intention with my family by not speaking for a whole day. I was not angry. I just was not in the mood to talk, which was very unlike me since I was and still am always the sayer, talker, and speaker. I wanted to be left alone in a quiet zone. My family was extremely worried about me and kept asking me throughout the day: “What’s wrong with you? Why are you mute? Why aren’t you talking?”
I think that was my first glimpse into how powerful silence could be and how probably one of the most hurtful things is to not acknowledge or respond when spoken to.
Even now, I was so accustomed to always doing and saying throughout my life that to do nothing, rest, pause, and be silent was foreign and even a bit frightening to me. We live in overly busy times. When was the last time you were in complete silence from your own personal choice? Have you ever tried to drive in your car without any music? Have you ever been in your home all alone without any background noises? How about the silence from others, such as the silent treatment or when their NO RESPONSE is, essentially, a response that can inflict utmost hurt and annoyance? How about the world of someone who is deaf or hearing-impaired? What about those who have speech delays, impediments, or who cannot or do not speak at all (aka: mutes)? Parents seem to have negative and fearful feelings of their children who are silent. Yes, indeed, how powerful silence and its sounds make and echoes that rock us to the very core. Yes, silence speaks volumes.
Silence has its own sound and ‘rest’ is just as vital, yet probably the hardest thing to do. There is an art to doing nothing. There is sound in silence. It takes a lot of and often unnecessary energy and exertion to always do and speak, yet saying and doing less are actually very hard to do. I am always a work in progress of doing nothing, saying less to nothing, and embracing silence. Does the sound and act of silence scare you at all? Or is it something that you embrace? How do you feel about the sound and act of silence given and received? When has silence spoke volumes and louder than ever for you?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,