The other day while on hold with Bell Atlantic, the male voice on the other end of the line said in a deep and commanding voice, "Please hold during the silence while I check the line."
Silence... what silence? You mean dead air? You mean I can't talk...? That's exactly what the telephone attendant meant. For the next thirty seconds, I was to obediently hold a phone to my ear with a dead line. In the radio world a dead line is called "dead air".
As a radio talk show host, dead air is a big no no and creates all kinds of chaos. Silence over the air typically means the host gives a "deer caught in the head lights" look and the technical operator and even the news guy can be found gasping and craning necks in tipped chairs to see what's doing in the studio as the station manager comes storming down the hall. Not a pretty sight.
Silence Is Not My Thing
Silence is not particularly my thing. I remember, many years ago, when my even more effusive than I closest and dearest friend from Florida shared with me that she was attending an eight day "silent retreat" in Grand Coteau, Louisana -- just the thought put me in a twitter.
These many years later, spending mute moments at a monastery still isn't exactly enticing. Yet, now that I'm in my fifth decade, I'm beginning to appreciate at least a measure of silence. How else can we find solace in a spinning world?
We can all appreciate quiet in a movie theatre, at a concert, during church, or during the night when we are trying to sleep... that is if the songbirds don't start singing in the wee hours of the morning.
But, when was the last time you actually allowed the sounds of silence to permeate your environment? Amazingly, the world doesn't even seem to notice or care when our souls cry for silence.
Saying "Stop" to the Rush
It sounds so simple to just say "stop" to the rush and business that assaults all our lives. But, it isn't simple and maybe we are even mildly afraid of what we might learn during still moments.
Or, we are not quite ready to face the truths and revelations that might surface during soundlessness if we can wait long enough to win over our impatience to life's rumble to begin again.
In our fast-paced world, it seems inconvenient to add even sporadic slices of silence to our lives. It may take a little planning, a dose of discipline, and perhaps even a silent retreat in a serene setting in the south.
But, if a sanguine radio talk show host can learn to handle dead air, remain on hold while the line is tested, and thrive through surrendering to trickles of tranquility -- then anyone can turn off the noise and be stirred by the sounds of silence.
Perhaps it's your turn to try?
Listening Below the Noise: A Meditation on the Practice of Silence
by Anne D. Leclaire.
A meditation on silence, the art of being present, and simple spirituality from critically acclaimed novelist Anne D. LeClaire (Entering Normal, The Lavender Hour), Listening Below the Noise offers a practical path to achieving calm, peaceful solitude in hectic lives. Practitioners of yoga and meditation of various traditions have long known the curative powers of stillness; in Listening Below the Noise, LeClaire offers her own unique, compelling version of this ancient wisdom tradition.
About The Author
Jennifer Phillips is an author, columnist, speaker, Radio/TV personality. In 1979, her life changed dramatically when she became a victim of a violent crime. This trauma sparked a journey of self-discovery and led to writing her story in Nice Girls Don't Get Raped. Subsequent radio and TV interviews eventually led to her own radio talk show in New York State, and writing a monthly column, A Slice of Life.