Chapter 26 | Silence, Space and Balance

balancing rocks at the sea

“And silence comes to heal the blows of sound” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809 – 1894)

(A card from my friend Bonnie. Thank you Bonnie).

There is something so magical about silence, it is comforting and healing, and there is something about ‘finally’ which relates to me as ‘easing of pressure’, whatever that pressure might be; incessant talk, noise, crowds etc.  That moment when you calm down and your breathing changes instinctively and you usually hear yourself sigh.

There have been glorious bundles of silence over the last 10 weeks of my life, however with the constant background chatter of birds and, more lately, laughter, barking and the occasional shout or whistle included…

I have made a simple ‘sketch’ of life before. Silence was routinely scheduled in my diary and most of the time I failed to keep it, I only truly experienced prolonged periods (hours, perhaps days) when I was in France or when we travelled long-haul. These periods were my cushioning, my cleansing, my re-set periods. A complete necessity for my sanity.

before and after of space

When I look at my days now, where silence is intermittent throughout, I cannot imagine in part of my daily graph how I operated without these ‘cool-down periods’ in my life. Nevermind days, nevermind weeks, months!! It is incredible that we are able to produce and function on that high-frequency level.  However, no engine in any car, no matter what brand or quality, could continue to operate at that high, demanding level without breaking down. One can have many engineers on the ground, a great support team, however the engine – the car itself – has to have periods of slow rides, varied territory and complete rests.

I have found space in my life and I want to hold onto that space on a weekly basis (I did write daily, however I realised that I would not be able to authentically stand by that promise, not in London, not in my life). What do I do with people’s demands to see me, talk to me, go out with me? How do I choose between my runs, cycles, tennis, golf and training? How do I choose between theatres and plays? Making time for my garden and my home, my painting and writing? And, I have not even written down work, admin, appointments, shopping etc.

The sad conclusion is a realistic conclusion, it feels and it sounds harsh, however the only way to make and to keep space and silence in my life is to cut. It is hard and it is difficult when one really has to start prioritising needs, wants and desires.

I can feel myself getting slightly agitated when I feel that ‘life is opening up again’, I can slowly start to feel the pressure building. To ease this pressure I have to make decisions now which cut me in half; half of me is relieved, a quarter of me is scared of the consequences and the other quarter feels sad.  

My conclusion: Doing right for my long term well-being is not easy and it means that I would have to take a strong stance against ‘pleasing others’ without being ruthless and selfish. I am also very aware that I don’t want to end up lonely and all by myself; it is once again finding that balance. Knowing myself and what I need in what quantities – and that quality counts to the bitter end.  Express your needs to yourself, be clear on those.

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