The Deafening Roar of Silence

You’re at a party or a restaurant or cafe.  Everybody’s talking and carrying on.  Between that and all the rustling of chairs and clattering of silverware, there’s not a person in the room who is actually listening to the background music which is invariably on in such places.

I used to work as a plumber on construction sites that were dominated by carpenters.  Often, the carpenters would have a cheap plastic boom box cranked up full tilt to some rock station.  Between that and the construction noise and the acoustical liveliness of the job site, it would turn into this thick noise soup that I had to spend the day working in.  Occasionally, I would get fed up and go over and turn the radio off.  This luscious, beautiful silence would well up and fill the air only intermittently punctuated by a hammer here or a saw cut there.  The carpenters would then say, “Hey man, turn the radio back on!”  I would dutifully honor their seniority on the job site and restore the horrific cacophony that they somehow found preferable to the relative silence.

Do you ever call up a business and are placed on hold where they force you to listen to some insipid pop music through telephone technology – a technology that was first established in the earlier half of last century – a technology designed for marginally intelligible human speech.  No way was telephone technology designed for music and yet they force you to listen to music because studies have shown that if people waiting on hold are forced to confront the ambient silence in their own heads, they will get unnerved and hang up and do their shopping from the other business.

At the end of No Shame theater tonight, presumably we will once again be forced to listen to that loud piece of music which seems to be No Shame’s closing theme song.  The song will reverberate through the extreme acoustical liveliness of the Atrium Building’s very high ceiling rendering conversation considerably more difficult for anyone who may wish to hang around discussing tonight’s show.

Have you ever noticed how straight white men seem to really really love playing golf and fishing?  My theory is that this is because golf and fishing are the closest these men ever get to a meditation practice.  But if they want to relax and clear their minds, maybe they should just relax and clear their minds.

Do you ever think about your thoughts?  Do our thoughts just pop into our heads out of nowhere?  Or is it a little more likely, a little more plausible that our thoughts come percolating up from a subtler, quieter place deep inside of us?  A place of greater silence, clarity and peace?  And is it possible that if the human family were to begin perceiving our thoughts from somewhere a little closer to that place of greater silence, clarity and peace, that humankind’s amazing, heartbreaking capacity for denial, delusion, fear and hatred and the inevitable conflict and suffering that accompany them would dissolve like fog in the sun? 

I cannot over emphasize what a wonderful thing silence is. Silence is golden.  The deafening roar of silence is not without substance.  It is a palpable ocean – a garden of delights lying deep inside all of us.