Thursday, 2 August 2012

#Thatawkwardmoment ... friend or foe?

As I sat through a relatively choppy meeting a few weeks ago with someone I had never met before, I was overtaken by some sort of out-of-body experience ... well, not really, mainly I just listened to myself speak for once in my life.

And then it dawned on me ... I am REALLY awkward sometimes. When I listened to myself in the meeting babbling about god knows what, I couldn't believe it ... do I EVER shut up? To all my friends, please don't answer that. Now, as someone who's own mother can't remember a time when I wasn't speaking as a baby, I recognize that I am quite the gilmore girl. And, as my best friend puts it, I am a "learned" good listener; ie/ I used to be an obnoxious ass until I realized that listening to people would be a good idea... what are best friends for if not brutal honesty, right?

Best friends, and incredible awkwardness.
So this leads me to my theme of the day, the proverbial awkward silence. Why are we all so terrified of that gaping hole in conversation that raises the hairs on our backs and makes sitting still a literal impossibility? If, for some reason, you don't know what this feels like ... think about the moment in between two movie previews when all you want to do is be silent but, of course, your body chooses that EXACT moment to tickle your nostrils and make you sneeze sour patch kids all over the theatre... got it now? Thought so.

Well, as all of my fellow rez-lifers who have been trained in the wonderful art of "active listening" know, we must embrace these horrendous silences. We (especially me) must, against every fibre of our being, just SHUT IT once in a while. Because, in those silences, some of the most wonderful things can be heard. As a society that is consumed by noise and distraction, we need to redefine silence as something that is meaningful, powerful and not awkward in the least. Silence gives us time to think, reflect and connect in a very impactful way.

And right now, somewhat ironically, I am at a loss for words. So, I am going to let Mitch Albom take this one away with some of his magnificent words from Tuesdays with Morrie, my favourite book ...
"He enters the classroom, sits down, doesn't say anything. He looks at us, we look at him. At first, there are a few giggles, but Morrie only shrugs, and eventually a deep silence falls and we begin noticing the smallest sounds, the radiator humming in the corner of the room, the nasal breathing of one of the students. Some of us are agitated. When is he going to say something? We squirm, check our watches. A few students look out the window, trying to be above it all. This goes on for a good fifteen minutes, before Morrie breaks in with a whisper. 'What's happening here?' he asks. And slowly a discussion begins -- as Morrie has wanted all along -- about the effect of silence on human relations. Why are we embarrassed by silence? What comfort do we find in all the noise?"
Today, and everyday, I encourage us all to spend some time in silence. Listen to yourself, listen to the amazing world around you. Just lock it up for however many minutes that you can and embrace yourself, your opportunities and most of all, the incredible beauty of silence.

To echo the wonderful Morrie (and to encourage you to read the book if you haven't),

What comfort DO we find in all the noise?


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