I do not own anything by Sara Maitland or Adrienne Rich. Opinions are my own.
It has been a week filled with words about silence.
Loneliness, he tells me. I’ve figured my loneliness out. I’m acting, in silence and in words, I’m continuously acting. The loneliness builds itself, layer upon layer with every word said, and unsaid, because I can never be myself….Even in silence, I am acting.
There are a slue of texts. All coming one after another, quickly, filled with so much emotion, coming so quickly, so silently, that I don’t know how to react, I don’t know what to say. I want to gather him in my arms and tell him it’s going to be okay.
Instead, I sit up in bed, and I type out equally silent words, trying my best to remind him, remind us, that this too, shall pass. (It always passes).
In Cartographies of Silence by Adrienne Rich:
The classical music station
playing hour upon hour in the apartment
the picking up and picking up
and again picking up the telephone
The syllables uttering
the old script over and over
The loneliness of the liar
living in the formal network of the lie
twisting the dials to drown the terror
beneath the unsaid word
Silence, if not handled with care, has the power to break a man.
A gateway to madness, surmises Sara Maitland in A Book of Silence.
Maybe they have met each other before, Rich and Maitland, saying the same things in beautiful words.
Yesterday’s sermon – humans are relational beings, we thrive on relationships.
Relationships, peppered with pockets of silence, I want to add. You can’t have one without the other. You can’t have too much of both, either. Everything, in moderation, right?
Dad and I have breakfast together at our usual haunt. I’m having tea, he’s contented with coffee and a sesame seed cake. We’re eating quietly – there is no need for words. I hear a loud voice over the background sounds of the cafe, a male voice, going on and on about something that I couldn’t grasp, and didn’t quite want to.
Sometimes, I wonder why people think they can only be heard if they’re loud, I muse. My father smiles.
The ones who throw words around are usually the ones who spend most of their time talking, and hardly doing, he replies. Appreciate the man who understands silence, he adds.
Oh, Papa. Of course I do. This was one of the first lessons you taught me, remember?
Language here really is the ‘foster-child of Silence and slow Time’, Maitland writes.
As an only child, I spent most of my time alone. One could say the first sounds I learnt were silence. Then, slowly, I began to fill in the gaps with words from books, words from conversations.
I understand Maitland here. I learnt language only because I knew silence.
And yet, the irony of it all does not cease to amuse me… Maitland, Rich, my father, my friend and I, we’re trying so hard to use so many words to explain silence.
Oh, what irony, indeed.