The spoken word can hide many things. There’s a silence in unnecessary conversations that’s deeper than comfortable silences when no words are needed for togetherness.
Theodor Storm was quoted as saying “Ich brauche äußerliche Enge, um innerlich ins Weite zu ziehen,” which, roughly translated, means “I need outward narrowness to expand inwardly.” I have always interpreted this in two ways. First, Storm wrote almost exclusively about bourgeois settings where rules and conventions were very restrictive and ordered, and where the Other could (and would) always potentially upset the status quo, where the ordinary was touched and changed by the extraordinary; a grey canvas of normality onto which Storm (or his characters) would throw an unexpected and sudden splash of colour. Second, I have always thought that he also meant that he needed to be contained, needed to contain himself, with order and discipline and routines, so that his mind, his inner self, could actually find the peace and space to create his art. Although this is not necessarily always borne out by his private life, I feel that even some of the more extraordinary aspects of his personal life (love poems to someone he wasn’t married to, seven children with his wife, jealousy, depression, anxiety) are explosions of creativity which may otherwise have not surfaced.
Yes, a layman’s interpretation, but valid nonetheless. And it’s this which informs my take on silence (of the spoken word at least), and my need for it in order to be able to develop an inner monologue (or dialogue or multilogue depending on how many voices are in my head at any given time). It is perhaps because of this, because of my need for quiet time, for long periods without conversations or chatter, that I’m not particularly social, but that when I do decide to be social that I can come across as someone who is mostly good with people and good at communicating. But I can do this rarely – there is not enough room in my head for external words most of the time.
An odd thought for a Sunday morning, but it comes from feeling a little frazzled and worded-out (via the mouth) anyway. I do tell people (to disbelief and laughter) that I am actually very shy and inarticulate (when I speak). And it is true. I still blush when I speak in groups. I still get very hot and sweaty when I give public performances, and I get very very nervous before every radio show I do. And before you misinterpret all this – they are not negatives. I’m glad I care enough about things to get nervous and hot and tongue-tied. I just know that I frequently (and always) need my own space to charge my thinking and my writing and my person. And many other people need exactly that, too, so give them their space. They’ll talk to you when they’re ready and willing, willing being the operative word.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 117
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