What Silence Can Mean

My closest friends know that silence is something that can really mess with my mind. My default inner dialogue goes something like this:

I blew it. Something happened and now they've decided we're not friends anymore. Or they just can't take it (me) any longer. But actually saying so is too awkward or uncomfortable, so they are just going to ignore my email and hope I'm not too dull to get the point.

Or with people to whom I submit some work:

I'm probably such a colossal disappointment to them that I've left them speechless with dismay. They thought I could deliver something that I clearly cannot and they cannot find a graceful way out.

There's enough dysfunction here that we could spend the whole day untangling it, but all one really needs to know is that I come by this honestly. More and more I'm bringing my awareness to this unhelpful pattern and I'm learning to talk myself through other possibilities for silence, like this:

Maybe their phones died and they are still sleeping and they haven't had a chance to check email yet. Maybe they are sick, or had an accident. Maybe one of them got hit by a bus on the way home from work yesterday and they both spent the night in the hospital where everyone knows cell phone reception sucks.


Maybe she had a death in the family or she was suddenly sacked from her job and doesn't have access to that email address anymore. Maybe she's having a personal crisis or transition and a few months from now when she finally comes up for air and the dust settles she will remember me and drop me a line again.

I am not making this up--I have literally said these things out loud to my husband in all seriousness. And I have to report, this is tremendous progress for me.

This is what is on my mind this morning when I think of my quietness in this space. For someone who's so sensitive to silence, I think, you sure throw your share around without much regard.

But silence can mean many things, I am learning. Silence can come when something is being born, when something is mending, when the timing hasn't quite lined up. Sometimes there is nothing to say, or the words are on strike until that timing thing is resolved. It is with words as with everything--there is a time to give and a time to receive, a time to make things and a time to rest. A time for the words to go one place and a time to go to another.

I am quiet these days because I am working so steadily on good things to share with you. I am receiving final deliveries and setting up web pages, celebrating with friends, and making a short behind-the-scenes film that is perhaps the most fun of all. I am waiting, which is so hard for me, for the timing to line up, waiting for the time to give.

But know in the meantime that all is well. All is quite well.