I love silence. I mute commercials. I’ve been known to wear headphones just to muffle the sounds around me. People think i’m listening to music, but no, I just don’t want to hear them. I don’t want to hear abut my coworker’s foot fungus (really, who does?) or listen to the never-ending torture of a leaf blower on a Saturday afternoon. I don’t want to hear the crash of dishes in the restaurant or the radio blasting “just nine-ninety-nine just nine-ninety-nine!” another time. In my world, most of the sounds that surround me are comparable to nails screeching down a chalk-board. And in a silly comedy of errors, my God has seen fit to surround me with never-ending noise when he knows how much I like the alternative! ( Note to my mother: yes I still appreciate being able to hear) I feel similar to Lockwood and Lamont in Singing In The Rain, one of my favorite movies. In the following scene the dynamic duo of silent pictures, Lockwood and Lamont, are tasked with making a “talkie”. The resulting picture’s sound is too loud, then too soft, then out of sync and what was supposed to be a dramatic movie becomes a comedy.
That scene is a perfect portrayal of how I feel, but yet I admit, it isn’t just the sound — it is the chaos! Who’s in the back room controlling the film anyway? I’m supposed to be stage right not left! Where am I even going with this? I have no idea where I’m going.
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. — A prayer by Trappist Monk, Thomas Merton, in his book Thoughts in Solitude
If you are like me, you “think” you have control or maybe “You‘re high maintenance but you think you‘re low maintenance.”:
When Harry Met Sally:
Harry Burns: There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.
Sally Albright: Which one am I?
Harry Burns: You’re the worst kind; you’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.
Sally Albright: I don’t see that.
Harry Burns: You don’t see that? Waiter, I’ll begin with a house salad, but I don’t want the regular dressing. I’ll have the balsamic vinegar and oil, but on the side. And then the salmon with the mustard sauce, but I want the mustard sauce on the side. “On the side” is a very big thing for you.
Sally Albright: Well, I just want it the way I want it.
Harry Burns: I know; high maintenance.
“I just want it the way I want it.” Hmmmm …let’s contemplate that for a bit shall we? Let’s try to shed a little light. I like silence, I get noise. I like peace, I get chaos. I like control, I get instability. What else do I like? I like white wine, all I have is beer! AYE caramba Homer – what’s the meaning of all this?
The true contemplative is not one who prepares his mind for a particular message that he wants or expects to hear, but is one who remains empty because he knows that he can never expect to anticipate the words that will transform his darkness into light. He does not even anticipate a special kind of transformation. He does not demand light instead of darkness. He waits on the Word of God in silence, and, when he is answered it is not so much by a word that bursts into his silence. It is by his silence itself, suddenly, inexplicably revealing itself to him as a word of great power, full of the voice of God.
– Thomas Merton Dialogues With Silence
Oh Thomas, Thomas… Thomas… Thomas, or should I call you Mr. Merton? Don’t you see I have no silence? What’s that? You want me to be quiet and stop trying to figure things out so I can find silence? O.k. but actually… oh sorry… just – could I have it on the side?