DP Weekly Writing Challenge: Silence

Absolute Silence

Absolute silence – do we ever really experience it. I mean the absolute silence of nothingness. I don’t sleep well, so I’m up at 2 and 3 am and there still isn’t silence. Quiet maybe. Spaces in between noise. Creak of house, whoosh of a car, rattle of branches, dogs bark, machinery kicking in.

But would we really want absolute silence. I think of Rachel Carson’s prophetic book, Silent Spring, and cry when I imagine a world where there was no spring birdsong. The quietness might mean hearing the leaves unfold, the tulips push up through the earth, the grass reborn in the vacant lot, the dandelions bursting forth in the lawn of the abandoned house. But there would be no hallelujah chorus, no joyous raucous greeting from bird to plant.

I often try and imagine the world when darkness was darkness; light by candle or moon. What did it sound like to be in London, New York City, on the “frontier”? I sit on benches in parks, close my eyes imagining a soundscape without human noise pollution. Then open my eyes skyward and dream of a starscape without light pollution.

I’ve sat in absolute darkness; darkness so deep I literally could not see my hand in front of my face (I tried). But absolute silence? Even in those blanks between outside of my head noise, I hear butterfly wings, footsteps, heart beats, white noise, distant all talk radio and opera arias.

I’ve been absolutely silent. Living on my own, speaking to no-one from Friday afternoon to Monday morning. I’ve been silent when hurt, silent when a voice was needed, silent when words should have been spoken, silent when I should have screamed, screeched, cried, shouted, yelled. Silent when someone needed a voice. Silent when the world needed a voice. Silent. Absolutely silent.

Absolute silence. I hope that I and the world are never absolutely silent.


12 thoughts on “DP Weekly Writing Challenge: Silence

  1. Alexia Jones 13th Matron February 23, 2014 / 8:59 pm

    I can relate to you crying at the thought of not hearing spring birdsong. It makes me sad to know what sounds in the silence my mother misses by being hearing impaired, only because I can’t imagine life without it.


    • phylor February 23, 2014 / 10:40 pm

      As I wrote my post, I was thinking about people I know with hearing issues, and how the world “sounds” or doesn’t “sound” to them. You wrote very poignantly about your mother and her silence.


      • wendy February 27, 2014 / 10:20 pm

        I bet you thought a little about me.
        There are times I’ve been silent, when I should have spoken, and times I should have stayed silent…but we can only learn and strive to do better at choosing the right times to be silent or to shout.

        Silence isn’t so bad. I often thought that it would be so horrible, that I would be lost in this world of noise, but I’m not. Yes, I do have technology to help me, but funny thing, I don’t use it a lot of the time. I enjoy my silence. Perhaps it’s the constant daily headaches and the migraines that make me hide from the sounds, perhaps it is from all the sounds that are just noise. Noise….I am actually relieved that I can get a break from the noise.

        Even with the technology of my computers in my head, I hear things differently….often I feel that simple sounds are more noise than enjoyable. I do miss a lot of the little sounds in the world. But there are times…..at just the right moment,…when the tinnitus is at it’s lowest, and the noises are being silent, that I can hear…the little sounds. Or perhaps they are phantom sounds I’m hearing….if you have phantom pain when you lose a limb, do you have phantom sound when you lose your hearing. At times I will think I can remember a conversation with my husband….the sound of it…when we have not actually spoken with sound, we’ve only used our hands….I can’t hear in the dark.


        • phylor February 28, 2014 / 8:43 am

          “I can’t hear in the dark” is so descriptive of the barrier than silence can place between the hearing and non-hearing world.
          Constant headaches/migraines make sound thunderous; tinnitus makes the world a jet plane or a heavy metal band drummer.
          You’re between two worlds — soundscapes exist in memory and in silence.


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