Life in Silence
Nothing in the room moved. I looked up, stared at my friends, and looked back down at my knees. In a matter of seconds something in the room had changed. We had gone from laughing and joking to sitting in complete and utter silence. I looked up again. A quick furtive glance and then it was back to my knees. Two of my friends sat talking quietly to each other. They stopped, paused, and with surprising ease, broke the silence with “Hey, take my iPod. I really want to hear…” but were cut off before the end of the sentence. The response that bounced back was “Shhh, I want to hear the rest of this song first.” Song? I thought to myself. What song?
The silence that draped over us was music, but how could it be? All it was was, well, silence. For a short time no one moved again.
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And then the room’s atmosphere changed and swirled around me once again. Someone mindlessly grabbed the cord hanging from the stereo, plugged in their mp3 player, and pushed play. Secluded in the silence of my thoughts, I made myself comfortable on couch I was sitting on, leaned back, and started to think.
I thought back to when I used to play the cello and asked my instructor why there were rest notes in the piece were learning. At the time, only the first half of her response resonated with me. She told me rest notes were there so I could take a break and then jump back into the music. That made sense to me. My fingers were tired and I could have used a break. But she was not finished talking. She went on to tell me that the silence was just as musical as the rest of the piece. She told me that I should play the rest notes with as much energy and vigor as I would any other note. At the time, I shrugged off her words as I pushed my eight-year-old frame as far away from my cello as my seat would allow me.
I had forgotten my conversation with my cello instructor until that moment and, once I remembered, was mystified. The song we were listening to, which I later found out was entitled “Two Minutes of Silence,” had been comprised entirely of notes. John Lennon had made a conscious choice to eliminate all sound from the piece of music. He was making a point. Too often my life has been filled silence with unnecessary sound. Given the commotion and bustle of daily life, there are times in which I forget to slow down and think. We must rest but we must not cease thinking. As I leaned back in my seat on the couch, I learned to sit back and start to rationalize the flurry of notes that came before. It is during these moments that thoughts crystallize and become clear.