Silence can be a good thing, it can be a very good thing; however, it can also be acuetly misplaced and deeply wounding too.
Words of course are quite often ‘over-used’ and can most definitely clearly cause very real wounding of their own such is the Life-paradox and necessary Life-tension between silence and the spoken word.
Words are verbal action, that should encourage, rebuke, inspire, challenge and enrich the mind and heart; not ‘just’ be relegated to the myopic mind-set of being exclusively aural, pleasant on the ear, or some kind of cognitive badge-of-intellectual cleverness worn as some kind of misguided sense of superiority &/or status.
Words are not necessarily always required to be safe, easy to digest – THE Word became flesh and in so doing also became tactile, cathartic, empathetic, healing, encouraging, provocative, humble, enriching and empowering of others.
But they can only be these attributes if the words are actually released, – spoken out!
And yet, so often they’re not. So often amid times of deep tenderness, aching and turmoil, even as we stand alongside those whom we believe know us, profess to be our friends, our companions; Sometimes even amongst friends & family we wait in desperate need for some simple words of encouragement, confirmation, insight, understanding, remembrance, hope, love… Not a Word.
Sometimes even those closest to us seem totally ‘lost for words’ and sometimes that’s where the silence is best and indeed exactly, and all that is needed – no words. (I will inevitably offer something in passionate defense and celebration of ‘silence’ within this blog too!) there is indeed a desperate need for silence... However; other times (so many other times) we just want and need a few simple words.
Why does this seem to be so difficult? Particularly for the British and Northern Europeans? and especially men?
I don’t profess to be an authority on this at all however, from my relatively extensive travels, hands-on involvement within extremely diverse demographics, training and life experience, I humbly offer that spoken words generally mean engagement, at least an element of relationship, (however temporary or fleeting), they are also potentially quite revealing, exposing, – We open our mouth and if we’re not careful, not controlled (or simply politically/corporately trained); What we really feel & believe can suddenly come tumbling out whether we intended it to or not, revealing who we are and what we think.
This is extremely frightening for a lot of people who spend so much time and energy carefully manicuring an image of ‘designer-grunge indifference’, politically correct appropriateness, meticulously rehearsed “I’m cool & normal”, or simple self-protection.
And yet, if we could just extract our head from our own… er… navel! – then we would perhaps more fully realise that others around us would hugely benefit from, be encouraged, even have their lives saved just by us being brave vulnerable and willing enough to, in the right way at the right time, say a few simple words. – It’s the released and expressed ‘vocal-embodiment’ of the Divine/human heart… That’s why the Word became flesh!
And yet, still many are waiting, wanting, needing a simple comment, but – Not a Word…
“Not a Word”
When the coffee has gone cold and the splashes from the spill lingers –
Staining the saucer that distinctive shade of sepia brown; –
And the moment plays out its familiar routine, only this time as a ‘swan song’
When the aching in muscle and limb that comes with the territory of up-rooting-
– And disposing of personal possessions is the same aching in heart and soul;
When the ‘forwarding address’ and ‘return to sender’ notification are poised for their cue,-
The rehearsal is over and opening and closing night are one and the same…Not a word
When the waterfall of platitudes and tributes has ceased,-
And the carcasses of ‘good intentions’ are buried by the flood, in the silt of their origin;
When the ‘morning after’ offers a scene of half-empty wine glasses and party-poppers,
Dribbled over “Bon Voyage” cards that litter the otherwise empty mantle piece,-
In an otherwise empty house…Not a word
When the solitude is tinged with a very definite shade of loneliness,
Provoking the gradual awareness that what is unfinished now, will probably remain so-
For some time… if not forever;
When the notes and casual comments from an earlier and very different time,
Take on a weight and significance beyond their original birth,-
And quite possibly beyond what was initially intended.
When the discovery that what little time was left to compose oneself,
And prepare for the inevitable wrench to come,-
Has been stolen somewhere between anxiety and exhilaration-
Leaving in its place, a mild, yet tangible fear – of permanent loss;
When all the loose-ends that have been flapping as aimless reminders, have all been tied,
And ‘Life’ has been packed into cases – loaded ready to be transported deep into the unknown
Not a word…
When the hustle and bustle of others around you has dissipated and what you believed-
To be precious and mutual has hemorrhaged on the operating table of cold reality –
And the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ are extremes beyond any scale…Not a word.
When you yearn only to receive, but are offered only withdrawal from others-
Others trying fervently to protect and acclimatise their heart to the pending winter of absence-
And you desperately need only to laugh, to smile, to cry, to listen, to hear… Not a word.
When minutes, months and moments have passed-
And the very core of your being is a kaleidoscope of churning emotion-
Standing alone, weeping, crying, screaming- for a voice, a comment, a call,-
Something, anything… Not a word.
© Danny Scott
Audio/Film clip: ‘Live poetry performance: “Not a Word”
Audio/Film clip ‘Live’ solo physical-theatre performance: “Not a Word/Blue Valentine’s”
© Danny Scott