Thursday, February 13, 2014

Companionable Silence

I wrote a piece nearly two years ago entitled Sound of Silence about the different types of feelings and emotions that can be communicated among people through the silence between them. Recently my thoughts once again traveled down that same road, sparked by folks that I encounter who seem to feel that any moment of silence between people is awkward and needs to be filled with a cacophony of words. Perhaps the silence makes them feel that their relationships are in doubt. Maybe it is just nervous energy or boredom. It could even be just an aspect of their personality that equates stillness with wasted time. Yet sometimes it seems that the very intrusion of their words at any prolonged period of quiet, actually serves to erode the tranquility and calm of the moment. Their voice seems like a rock abruptly thrown into a calm pond, disturbing the peace of the still surface.

Some of my favorite times with my daughter occur when we are together, enjoying each other's company without a single utterance disturbing the contented peace of our time together. She playing her video game on the couch as I am sitting on the floor next to her reading my book. We each draw pleasure from the presence of the other and in that moment, that is all that we need. I have heard the term companionable silence used to describe such moments. I think that expression really tells the story. A time when words would be an intrusion, would destroy the tenderness of the moment. Silence can be a strong indicator of comfort, peace, trust, and satisfaction with another.