A few weeks ago I decided not to speak for the day. As someone who is known for chatting up most anyone at any time, it was an abrupt departure. Strangely, I found it easy not saying one, single word. However, the people around me were either worried, frustrated or confused. (With the exception of my husband, of course, who rather liked the idea.) Fortunately I had written, “Vow of silence today,” on an index card and simply held it up.
Still the questions came, “Have you lost your voice?” “Are you sick?” “Is something wrong?” “Is this part of your religious practice?” Questions, all of which I answered with a simple shake of my head. It seems that my silence had somehow made me louder.
While words connect us, superfluous talk is simply noise. Much of what we say or what others say to us is either unnecessary or mindlessly repetitious. Being silent, I was able to ‘hear’ so much more, from the rustle of leaves to another’s tone of voice. Even the patter of my dog’s feet was more distinct. It had to be for I could not call her.
Yogis say that to live a full life one must be, ‘present in the moment.’ Doesn’t that mean that whether we are 12 or 92 we should embrace the age we are, not wanting to be years ahead or decades behind? If that acceptance really became the norm, wouldn’t it mean that we would respect others at every age? Wouldn’t that then mean that ‘old’ was as lovely a word as ‘young’?
Holding your tongue leaves a silence that brings a peace of its’ own. It is the kind of peace I would wish on anyone at any age: a quiet acceptance of where one is at the moment. Next year, scientists will begin testing an anti-aging drug on humans. They say it will increase our lifespans to 120. I say, that’s nice, but how about enjoying the NOW of where we are? We won’t be this age– or even here– forever.