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Silence

It's 10:07 pm, and I'm sitting at my newly assembled laptop desk dedicated to not losing this writing streak.

The scene is accompanied by the clicking of the keyboard with each new character I enter. Outside, a damp hum from cars passing by. Occasionally, the sound of someone talking as they walk past.

If you start paying attention, you realize how much sound is in our world.

As I waited in line for the post office earlier today, I noticed, for example, that even the automatic sliding doors had their own soundtrack—the sound of something harsh slipping over a smooth surface—repeated with every new visitor.

And there's the beeping from the cashiers, people's conversations, cars breaking at the traffic lights, a few yells from the schoolyard nearby, a coin falling to the floor, a kid asking their mum for candy, the banging of doors, a siren from afar.

In the evening, the sounds go from forte to mezzopiano.

It's only the light whoosh of cars going by the street 100m in front of my window.

Absolute, true, perfect silence is probably impossible. Except if you go to space.

Yet, it made me think. Of how often we forfeit even the slightest notion of it.

Yehudi Menuhin, a famous violinist of the 20th century, dedicated an entire speech to the value of it.

In the German version I'm reading, the word picked is "Schweigen."

Schweigen is a silence that describes an absence of speech.

This contrasts with the German "Stille," which means an absence of sound.

He writes, "Schweigen ist Stille (Abscence of words is silence) but never emptiness: it's clarity, [...] it's the fundament of all thinking, and therefore also the basis of any creative works.

He wonders if we've lost the ability to be silent and maybe even are afraid of the empty echo in our inner fulfillment, which deeply unsettles us.

It seems indeed a sign of our times that we're constantly breaking through the silence, be that with headphones in our ears or by constant chatter. It's uncommon to see people harmoniously sit in silence.

If you find someone you can be perfectly comfortable in silence with, keep them around. It's rare enough.

I often listen to music, especially when doing work writing. For my personal writing, though, I tend to get absorbed in the labyrinth of my own thoughts and completely forget about it. Sometimes, I only realize an hour in that; technically, I had put a CD in but not pressed play (Yes, I'm that old school sometimes) ...

Maybe silence gives us the space we need to paint our thoughts into it.

Without silence, how could we appreciate what breaks through it?

Maybe it's musicians that best understand the value of silence.

Even though they call them breaks.

Isn't it in those that the biggest tension lies?

In the time between movements of a symphony where everyone is at the edge of their seats in anticipation of the next?

Or those seconds between the pianist lifting his fingers the last time and the audience processing, holding on to that magic moment of notes still floating in the air, the final chord still plucking at the heartstrings - until the first one starts to clap.

If I could capture a silence in a flask, that'd be the one.

"May I recommend another exercise to you? "

"What?"

"Please sit in your room, breathe deeply, and listen to the silence."

"Why?"

"Chopin writes with the silence: his music comes from it and returns to it. If you don't learn to enjoy silence, you'll never be able to fully appreciate his music."

From Madame Plynsika and the Secret of Chopin

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