Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stop talking. You know you want to.


Nothing. I had nothing. The cursor kept blinking, as cursors always do, and still I had nothing to say. Not a word.

For a writer, that's a problem. For a writer, that's THE problem. Words feed you. Words give you purpose and destiny and a reason to take the next breath and open your eyes to the next sunrise and put down that glass before you open the next bottle. Words put meat on your bones and burn fat off them.

Words sustain and enliven you.

Until there are none.

That's the way it went for weeks. No words. I'd sit down to write and find myself wishing I'd just shut up. All the many words out there, spoken and written and gestured indiscreetly with a finger or two. The world was simply too congested with words for me to add another.

So I didn't. I shut up.

And glorious silence wrapped around my shoulders and snuggled in.

When you're not talking or typing or blogging or fidgeting with words like an origami-molded foul, time slows to the rhythm of your brain.

In short, you think.

You think a lot. I do this anyway, to no real substantive benefit. Nonetheless, I do. But when it's accompanied by silence, when words are simply no longer alive, the thinking turns a corner and you find an undiscovered path of spotted park benches and shade trees and the occasional poison ivy vine.

You think until the thought flatlines. And what I discovered is my great and boundless desire to simply shut up.

Not always. Obviously not today. But frequently. Often. And I found a great desire for others to follow suit.

In our un-Rockwellian neighborhoods of social media and mass communication, we literally construct our walls and ceilings with words. Then we wallpaper those walls with words. We clothe ourselves with words. We lace our shoes with them. When we sit down to dinner, we take out our steak knife and cut them open until bloody juices flow out.

We inhale and exhale words. We make them oxygen and carbon dioxide. Then we roll them into a cigarette and smoke a pack of them. We use them and use them and use them until no one is listening. Not even ourselves.

So I wonder, just a little wondering not a big one, if we don't all harbor a secret desire to shut up. Every now and then. To not find our world within the conversations of Facebook updates and Twitter feeds, to turn off the talking heads and the Oprah reruns, to simply sit on that park bench next to that poison ivy vine and feel the silence caress our face.

To find the time to think and mull and ponder, like we haven't done in ages. To find ourselves using fewer words with greater gusto.

Instead of twelve, we use six.
Instead of six, we use three.
Instead of three.
One.

And that one, that singular rocket-propelled word, is enough to charm people back into listening.

I'm going to stop talking now.

1 comment:

Jason Michael Parrish said...

After about 2-3 days of not talking, one starts talking (out loud) to oneself...and being exceptionally honest.

As for the thinking...thinking is good until one starts re-thinking what one has already thought. The secret is to make thinking a linear process and write and scribble madly as much of this down while it is still hot on the brain. Jane Goodall (the chimp woman) calls this circular thinking (which isn't terribly good)and must be avoided at all costs.

The best thoughts come at odd intervals, such as three in the morning after a particular grueling day at work, and should be written down asap and expounded upon later as I truly believe most of the important things ever conceived come about this way.