“Maturing is realizing how many things don’t require your comment.”
Just recently, my neighbor, Sean, in the middle of a heated discussion, directed a rather humorous comment to one of our mutual friends saying, “your contribution to this topic was more beneficial to us when you were silent.” We laughed, but it was true. Despite the entertaining nature of that comment in that particular context, It got me thinking about this concept of silence; when is it necessary for you to comment or remain silent?
In the catholic church, there’s a term known as, “the great silence”. The Benedictine order is especially known for taking this vow of silence; whereby, in monasteries and convents, members are encouraged to remain silent and to only talk when it’s necessary or unavoidable. This concept of silence cuts across the scholarly borders too, not just the religious doctrines. Great scholars such as Mahatma Gandhi once advised, “speak, only if it improves on the silence”. Pythagoras stated that silence is better that unmeaning words. Confucius added on by saying that silence is a true friend who never betrays.
As a child ,I read a story book that mentioned a time when Albert Einstein, one of the world’s greatest physicist and philosopher, passed up on an acceptance speech because he had nothing to say. Two weeks later after the award ceremony, he called the organizers of the event saying, “now I have something to say”. I don’t know how true this story is because I can’t find a credible source, but it’s a story that has imprinted on my mind all these years.
I find that I gain better understanding of things when I ponder on them in silence. I have come to embrace and love this concept of silence. We grew up being told by our elders that, “don’t speak when you don’t have something nice to say” or the infamous bible verse (I won’t even try to lie I know the exact verse or words) that speaks of what we profess with our tongues can not be taken back.
When I was a teenager and in my early 20s -I honestly can’t believe it’s gotten to a point where I’m saying “my early 20s” Old age is creeping in, my friend- I was the most impulsive person I knew. I say that because for real! I didn’t know anyone who had a serious case of verbal diarrhea like I did! Funny thing is, I didn’t care a brass farthing about what anybody had to say about it! I was expressing myself. My brother’s death had done a number on me and I felt I had the need to say everything that came to mind, while I had the chance to say it. I had lost that chance with him and I wasn’t going to lose it with anyone else. Truth be told, even now, I still struggle with holding back unnecessary commentary.
The desperation in my quest to be the goddess of infallibility has caused me a lot of drama and stress in my life. I believe that it’s important to say what’s on your mind and say it as it is. However, I’ve come to understand that it doesn’t always sit well with most people. I have come to appreciate the words of Kevin, Robin’s court ordered therapist in the comedy series, How I Met Your Mother, ” Just because something needs to be told, doesn’t mean it needs to be heard. Some things are better left unsaid, because let’s face it; the most hurtful words come from the truth”.
I’m not saying that I shall no longer speak or I’m going to take a vow of silence; I just feel like I’m at a place in my life where I enjoy my own space. I enjoy the silence. It brings me peace, a peace I have fought for so long to feel. I find that I cannot bring myself to argue or respond to anyone if I feel like it’s not going to be beneficial, especially to my mental health. I find that I can easily walk away from people the minute they exhibit the slightest sign of disrespect towards me. Even if that person meant the world to me. It’s unfortunate but now more than ever I appreciate the growth. I appreciate the art of letting go and letting live.
So the next time someone hurts you, be quiet if you have nothing good to say. Don’t speak out of fury. Don’t say something for the sake of it. Silence is your best friend. It shall never betray you. Always speak when you are sure of your words, lest you say something that you will come to regret or something that will bring you a lot of distress in your life.
And from a passing statement, I learnt a valuable lesson. Before I utter any words, I ask myself, “Will your contribution to this topic be more beneficial in silence or by commenting?”
Until next time,
Love and Light