Not speaking and speaking are both human ways of being in the world, and there are kinds and grades of each. There is the dumb silence of slumber or apathy; the sober silence that goes with a solemn animal face; the fertile silence of awareness, pasturing the soul, whence emerge new thoughts; the alive silence of alert perception, ready to say, “This… this…”; the musical silence that accompanies absorbed activity; the silence of listening to another speak, catching the drift and helping him be clear; the noisy silence of resentment and self-recrimination, loud and subvocal speech but sullen to say it; baffled silence; the silence of peaceful accord with other persons or communion with the cosmos.”
– Paul Goodman
This quote came to me on Tuesday morning via Brain Pickings, and it stayed with me for days afterwards. Two lines in particular stood out:
the fertile silence of awareness, pasturing the soul, whence emerge new thoughts;
the alive silence of alert perception, ready to say, “This… this…”;
It was not just the two types of silence, in isolation of one another, but the relationship between the two that struck me as worth contemplating.
You see, Goodman’s words spoke to the reasons why I have been “silent” on The Next Course since December 2013, with few exceptions. I needed to retreat from the internet in order to find my voice, to figure out what it is that I have to say.
An incubation period, of sorts.
For the past year and change, I haven’t been thinking about a particular “goal” or “project”. I haven’t had a specific “outcome” in mind (not in blogging and internet terms, at least, but that’s a story for another day). I’ve been giving myself some space to think, no action needed.
I find myself now perched on the edge, perhaps not quite at the point of “alert perception, ready to say” something specific, but getting there – I can feel it. The ideas are not screaming out, but they are whispering. Something new is forming, if I can just give myself the space and the steadiness to nurture it from seed to fruit. If I can only capture these seeds of thought in clear enough form to be able to return to them later, to develop them further. If I can have the patience to bring this new vision to a place where it are ready to leave the shadows of silence, to step out into the world.