On a walk with a friend, I was being very chatty.
It wasn’t that I had a lot to say. I didn’t. It was that I was afraid of silence.
In my mind, silence was uncomfortable, a red flag signaling tension or disconnection. So, if conversation slowed, I’d come charging in.
Here’s a question I have for you…, I’d say, while galloping through my brain in search of a question. Or, You know, this incredible thing happened to me…, I’d begin, again galloping through my brain for some incredible thing. So, with all this talk-talk-talking, I wasn’t so much participating in the conversation as orchestrating it.
Then a point came in the walk when I ran out of questions and incredible things. My mind had exhausted itself galloping around. There was nothing else to do but let the silence be.
And we walked without words. Just the sound of our feet on the ground, the birds in their oak trees.
We walked and walked like this until I noticed that we had arrived at a gentle, safe kind of quiet. In fact, sharing this silence felt as connective as sharing conversation.
We did talk again. Then had quiet. Talked again, then quiet. So this is what it feels like to allow space for silence, I realized.
When we parted ways, my friend walked to her home, and I walked to mine. Now, that’s a good practice, I thought, learning to let the silence be.