Saturday, March 16, 2013


I have a school teacher friend who everyone describes as inspiring. She recently accepted a position coaching other teachers. But when I suggested she has a passion for teaching, she resisted the idea. 

“It's important to me,” she said. “It's my calling. But I don't have a passion for it.”

We associate passion with hot feelings. We are passionate when we tango, passionate when we cook with curry, passionate when we join protests. But we may balk at using the term to describe a longtime commitment, and it's almost impossible to think of applying the word to our search for silence. 

Silence is cold. We know that from reading fiction. Characters confront each other with chilling silence, tramp in silent, frigid fields, or tremble at the icy silence of a deserted hallway. It's weird to consider that some of us actually have a passion for silence.

When first exploring that need we often experiment with silence observed in community. Participants come back from such events with a desire to incorporate times of silence into their everyday lives of work and family, but it isn't easy. Our culture associates silence with recluses or the oddly religious who live in monasteries. We feel strange asking our close people to grant us times of silence, and worry it will hurt them if we crave solitude. 

But with effort, we can rehabilitate the word silence, in our own minds at least. We can embrace that it's cool. We can embrace that it's hot. We can give in to our passion for it.

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