Today we took a break in my Death and Dying class and watched the movie version of “Tuesdays with Morrie.” I’d never read the book, but I enjoyed the movie. I’m a fan of pithy quotes about life and meaning, as well as thoughts about human relationships. So, it was right up my alley. I grappled with, critiqued, agreed, and disagreed with various quotes and viewpoints from Morrie. However, one that hit close to home was when, in the context of meeting again for the first time, Mitch anxiously started conversation to break the silence. Morrie asks the anxious Mitch, “What is it about silence that makes people uncomfortable?”
In the past few days I’ve noticed myself, and had others point out as well, my use of any words I can to fill the dead air. I think my need to fill silence in conversations or relational situations comes and goes in phases. A year, or two years ago, I recognized this tendency, and simply started to enjoy, and savor silence. As one friend has said (for any social situation), “It’s only as awkward as you make it/allow it to be.” However, as I suppose I’m a fairly quirky person, I sometimes go through phases where I feel like there needs to be words communicated, not simply presence, when I’m around others. I would attribute this to, among others, two main things. A desire to make the most of every situation, to learn, and gain knowledge, about the world and people. Also, a misconception that to have silence in interactions, versus constant talking by one of the parties involved in the encounter, that the encounter has been a failure, or simply ‘awkward.’
Instead of fearing silence, use and enjoy the silence.