Comfort in Silence

There is something so inherently peaceful about simply being quiet. This truth I have been made keenly aware of in the weeks since my last post. When you are a naturally talkative person, quiet does not make sense between two people. Alone? Yes; I am, in fact, rejuvenated by solitude. The most natural reflex in me, however, is to fill the silence with talk. I used to think it was just “the way I am” but when I find myself with people who do not feel the same need to fill the silence, I realize that they have something I do not. Comfort in silence. Comfort in quiet companionship. Comfort in listening. And then it becomes a matter not of the simple way I am but rather, the ways I have yet to grow.

Sometimes I find nothing more unsettling in being with my closest friends than the realization that over the course of an evening, I’ve done most of the talking myself. Don’t misunderstand me – when someone needs to talk, I can listen. But it always ends the same way. I give a long-winded word of advice and “talk” them through it. I love words. I love speaking. I will even admit I do occasionally even love the sound of my own voice. Whether right or wrong, it does come in handy when people genuinely want a second opinion or perspective. Whether right or wrong, I also find myself envying those that have the patience to listen. My best friend is one of them. I kept her from leaving my house recently because a few hours had gone by and she hadn’t even talked about herself yet. Not for lack of opportunities, but because she was comfortable listening to me. She didn’t feel the need to talk like I did. Granted, it’s a little different with us because our closeness has led to many a quiet evening but by her own admission, she would rather listen than talk about herself. My boyfriend can be the same way. Late at night he might just want to sit there, not saying a word, just being in the comfort of each other’s presence. My sister shows the same patience when she listens to my ranting and raving and avoids the same amount of “revelation” that I constantly have to vocalize. My thoughts in this post were none more triggered by a newer friend I’ve been spending time with. Once a week, we park our cars in the neighbourhoods near the hospital where we do our practicum. The walk is a short one. The sun is rising earlier and the earth is just beginning to show signs of life. The air is crisp and we keep up a brisk pace to make good time. Last semester this same walk was done with other friends of mine who showed a tendency to be more like me. We would fill the silence with light chatter, musing about the possibilities of the day and what the evenings plans were at shift’s end. But now, I make the walk in peaceful quiet. We exchange our good morning’s and enter the wooded path to the hospital. She is comfortable in silence. She is comfortable in the quiet reverie that a 7 AM walk lends itself to. She teaches me to be content in the simple pleasure of companionship. Our walk back to the cars are much more animated and filled with chatter about the days adventures and new experiences but even this time is touched with a special brand of peacefulness.

All of these people, but especially my newer friend, are the type that only speak when they have something to say. And usually, it’s pretty insightful, meaningful, or funny. Not always, but usually. I do take pride in my way with words. I’ve known from the beginning that I can articulate myself very clearly and consistently (in other words, I don’t stop talking). There is value in this quality just as there is value in being more of a listener. But these people are teaching me to slow down, to say things that mean something rather than to say everything, and to just listen.

I’m in such a lovely, peaceful place. Not mentally – although I am getting there – but in the physical sense. My boyfriend and I are staying with his family at their place on a ski mountain. The snow is still swirling all around but the sun is peeking through the clouds at the mountain tops. The trees are laced with snow and the rooftops are, conversely, weighed down heavily by several feet of snow. My tea is steaming beside me as I sit at the luxurious, large table, facing a panoramic expanse of mountain. This place lends itself to introspection. My heart feels ready to grow and become more like the person I should be. As our weekend getaway comes to a close, I long for a similar place where I always experience the most growth and healing. A place where the lake lays at our feet and the mountains at our backs. Where we spend the days tucked away in a rustic and exclusive world of bright skies and strong, turbulent winds. The technology I’m using at this minute to blog is a far distant thought and impossibility. We will drive past it on our way back home today and I’ll look out the window and long to walk along the rocky waterline and plunge my body into the cold water. I’ll even long for the ache in my muscles that always follows an overly ambitious hike along the dirt road and up the mountain’s edge. This spring and summer will be one of drastic change. I feel it coming and I wait expectantly for that which I do not know.


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