When I was in high school, I was part of our drama department. I was never into acting; I preferred creating the image. I very quickly became the technical director and, in our high school, that meant I ran everything except the actors themselves. Sets, lighting, “special effects,” costumes, sound, hair and make-up. It was a fun time in life and I was afforded some incredible opportunities and experiences because of it, most importantly, I have some great memories with some incredible people. On the crew we had a credo of our own, I wish I still had it just because it was interesting. When you work on stage during a live production you are a ghost and that is what is expected. We wore all black and during a performance either soft soled shoes or black socks as to increase our already perfected silent walk (and sprint sometimes). We lived in the shadows and knew where every shadow was for every scene. We spoke volumes in silence and became masterful at communicating with no words or sounds. The greatest sin you could commit as a stagehand was for anyone to know you were there. Ours was the darkness, we could assist actors and direct people without ever being seen and our night vision had to be on point.
Thinking back, our actors had to develop some self-control to not scream as we frequently surprised them. I knew them and their show well enough to predict issues and solve them before they happened. They walked off stage to a waiting water bottle or stagehand with safety pins or make up to fix whatever broke on scene during the 30 seconds they were off the stage between scenes.
I am not reminiscing for nothing, there is a point to this. It was here in the shadows of the backstage of a theater that I first learned to embrace the silence. This is where we became friends, most people are instinctively afraid of the darkness and the silence. Our brains tell us to fear what our physical senses cannot grasp. The world we live in is so very busy that the absence of sound is deafening to most people and will send people into madness quickly.
We live in a world that is flooded with light and sound pollution, there is very little silence in our lives, and we are generally afraid of it. Something is always making noise. I have frequently been in awe of how much noise my children make, although not more than any other child per se. It is just a different perspective as I have learned to live with it firsthand.
I live a couple of blocks off the state highway in a rural town in the middle of nowhere and even at 0530 as I write this piece the sounds through my window never stop. This is not even the silence I want you to learn to embrace. I have prattled on to help you separate the silence, most people do not understand what I am talking about because silence is such a strange concept.
Silence is the stillness in your mind that is amplified by the quiet around you. It is certainly easier to achieve with some physical silence around you. That is why I encountered it backstage in the darkness, not only was it physically quiet and dark, but I had to have mental clarity to predict and correct things that had not happened that would need fixing before they did. I had to still my mind and be 100% present in the moment. No other thoughts could invade my mind for me to do my job as well as I could.
That is the silence you need to find, your brain can only function at a fraction of its capacity with all the noise and distractions that are thrown at it daily. That is the purpose of the distractions, to pacify you, regardless of if you are trying to pacify yourself or someone else wants to pacify you. The Roman government created the games in the colosseum just for this reason, it pacified the people and kept them from revolting under taxes and sometimes horrendous living conditions. It is not a new game. We pacify ourselves to keep us from dwelling on the fact that we are unhappy with something in our lives regardless of what we are unhappy about. It is easier than having to make peace with those things or change them.
Silence is stillness of the mind and soul as one, some people meditate to achieve this state while other people embrace it naturally. What is important is that you find your way there however it works best for you. I have found in my personal experience that the minute I give my mind permission to absorb into something like a show, a video or a game the thought process stops almost entirely. One of the reasons they say intelligent people read books is that your mind gets to engage rather than just being a passenger. If you let your mind linger in something like a movie it checks out, nothing to work through except what the movie wants you to focus on. You can take up meditation, read more, take up motorcycle riding or do some yoga. Whatever works for you is fine.
Here is the guideline if you are having difficulty with this, a road map of how to get there.
· Find somewhere quiet
· Preferably low light
· Turn off all distractions
· Engage in an activity where you must be totally focused on said activity, totally present.
This is merely a way to introduce yourself to the silence. Once you start to experience it you can learn to seek it without all the extra hoops to jump through. Find time to let your mind function at its full capacity. Embrace the silence without distraction and find out what you are capable of without all the noise and distractions that dull your mind. Unleash your potential. Be warned that on this path you may be moved to ambitions you were not aware you had. In the silence your mind can communicate all of its ideas and knowledge where it is accessible to you and you will realize just how intelligent you really are. All those things you have learned during your life are still hanging around and things you had not realized that you picked up. Embrace the silence and embrace your potential.
Be better tomorrow because of what you do today!