This week in Story 101, we practiced silence. This week was a crazy week at work.
This week, I sucked at silence. Well, sort of.
I tried to stay away from Facebook during work this week. I gave myself ten minutes in the morning to answer questions on the group that I admin for work, to wish people a happy birthdays, and to answer direct messages. I was going to spend ten minutes and then log off.
Then an announcement needed to be made on the group page. New residents requested to be added and then came to the front desk, perplexed that it hadn’t happened immediately (because doesn’t EVERYONE live and die by their Facebook notifications?). Then our supper club meeting on Sunday had to be overhauled. Then etc. Then I just kept logging back in to do one more thing.
I tried to stay off Facebook during work. I failed. I did this log-in-log-out business for two days. Then I just gave up logging out.
But at home, that was a different story.
At home, it was quiet. Finally quiet. Blissfully quiet.
I did not log in to tend to work or anything else. Because I don’t work (for the job that pays rent) at home, and I don’t work (for the job that pays rent) for free.
At home, I do what I love. And this week of silence gave what I love the space to rest and breathe.
Even at home, my writing time, no matter how faithful I am to stick to it, is usually a rush-in,go go go,
don’t pause to ponder
just write write write
And even then, there’s not time to get everything I planned to do in the time I had to do it.
This week, with silence, I had time to ponder. And I loved it.
The problem with silence is that when I get it – even a little of it – I start to crave it. All the time.
And the normal stresses of being an introvert in an extrovert job are multiplied by ten billion.
There’s no silence there.
It’s loud loud loud loud loud.
People talking at and over each other. Not to communicate. Not really. Just to hear their own voices. And I know they aren’t hearing anyone but themselves, because their responses are comically non sequitur.
It could be an SNL skit. I try not to laugh – which I really want to do, because it’s absurd and hilarious, even if they don’t mean for it to be – because sudden bursts of laughter from the previously silent desk clerk will provoke a whole new set of chatter as they try to figure out what’s so funny without ever stopping to listen for the answer.
Oh, wow. That would be even funnier.
Talking talking talking talking talking. So much blah blah blah
And I feel blah (blah blah).
And I get it. I do. It’s mesmerizing to hear your voice. To learn its sound. To hear words that come out that might be your ideas or might be a variation of someone else’s ideas but are out there. You put them out there. You gave them your voice. And it’s especially mesmerizing when it’s new – when you are learning new things and meeting new people.
You know, like people do. When they’re first-year students. In a dorm. Where I work.
I get it.
I just can’t deal with it when I know that the silence is waiting for me on the other side of the time clock. When I can go home and breathe it in. Breathe it out. Inhale. Exhale. Unwind. Unclench. Where it will actually matter that Facebook is off or that I’m not on Pinterest. When I can choose silence and actually have it choose me back. When I will actually get the silence I’m seeking. Where choosing silence actually works. Where I can go, as May Sarton phrased it in Journal of a Solitude, “to take up my ‘real’ life again.”
Is it this way for everyone? The increased intentional silence a reminder of the glory of what everyday life could be (should be…must be)? Does it make them yearn for quiet solitude to be the thing they do full-time rather than the thing they have to make time to do? Do they feel even more unsatisfied than they usually feel with where their choices about how they make a living – make a life – have landed them?
In this way, silence has been a mixed bag for me this week. I love it, but because I love it, I am more acutely aware of how much my life lacks it. I am thus dissatisfied. And restless. And wistful.