What is silence?
I cannot fully express a proper answer to this question. The phrase, “a deafening silence” comes to mind. Is it a fullness? A stillness? Is it simply those things we cannot explain? While it feels obvious to answer that it is the total and complete lack of sound, this does not tap into the essence of silence.
When I was 16, two good friends and I found ourselves amidst a fresh 3 foot snowfall in Chautauqua, NY. We laid down sinking about 2 feet into the snow. I recall this being the fist time that I experienced a form of true silence. It was deafening and filled me with awe. None of us spoke. Distant stars above twinkled. We gazed and felt the mirage of our being. There’s no telling how long it lasted, yet that moment has stayed with me since. Some days it’s the only place I wish to be.
And there is little else that I can say that will allow it to ripen fully in your ears or in your mind. Though I believe it contains some of the highest value and virtue in one’s experience, and yet it is so rarely met in our modern times. Presence of mind is enhanced by this all consuming quiet, and feels close akin. When life is always talking, we may not be aware of what we are listening. If there are angels to be made, then lay down in winter’s coat, look to the stars and wave gently.
The only musical piece that feels fitting to these curious ideas, is none other than John Cage’s “4:33.” An effortless reflection of the audience’s quiescence.