This I Believe

Adam - Kure Beach, North Carolina
Entered on March 13, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

The Power of Silence

I believe in the communicative power of silence. Events through the course of my life have taught me that silence, possessing the capacity to express an infinite array of emotions, is the most universal and resonate of languages. Though my life has been enriched by this belief, its value was not immediately apparent.

I have always been at a loss for words. While other kids at East St. Elementary in Geneva, New York, could often offer a poignant joke, I was left stumbling in my own verbal ineptitude. It was humiliating; often by the time I could think of something the subject had already shifted and I was left looking like a fool. Later I just stopped trying.

However, after many years of introversion I began to notice something unusual; instead of ignoring me, people started to approach me, unsolicited, for conversation. The things that people wanted to say would rarely be idol chitchat; instead they shared frustrations and moral dilemmas that they were unwilling to tell even their closest friends. Knowing that I didn’t possess acumen of Confucius or Solomon, I had no clue on how to advise them. Strangely enough, it didn’t seem to matter that I kept silent. They would still leave the conversation with a solid air of contention, as if I had unfolded to them the mysteries of life. In this I discovered that the solace my classmates found was derived, not from my attempted answers, but from being able to vent within that quiet air of non-judgment that I had inadvertently provided them.

I can see silence’s capacity of articulation in many other forms of expression. What is music, if not for the artistic placement of stillness? Great paintings rely on the skillful contrast of light and darkness. Even the cleverest of late-night TV satire can lose its bite if the comedian does not time his words just so.

In this age of telecommunication I am met with a barrage of e-mails, instant messages, pod casts, and pop-ups all wanting to know my opinion on the latest controversy.

I can remember no discipline as severe as my father’s quiet look of disapproval, when he discovered that I had gone down the cliff behind our house to swim in the lake, after he had expressly forbade me. Nor can I remember a time as romantic as the moment my high school sweet heart and I would just cuddle together and exchange tender glances.

Today, instead of feeling inadequate, I now embrace silence’s power of expression in meditation, contemplation and intimacy; in short, some of the very best that life has to offer. This I believe.