The final day of my month long [attempt at a] vow of silence is done.
I am come back to speech.
[Yes, “I am”.]
I’m not sure I like it. Yet it frees.
Permission. Networks. Works.
The tongue I had once is done. Thankfully.
It’s not wholly dead – I could, if drunk, still ramble on and on, I’m sure – but I now find myself holding onto quiet mid-conversation. If a natural pause and quiet approaches, I don’t and don’t wish to fill it. I wait. If someone – even someone in my family who is crying – has said something that might be replied to, I have acted instead. A hug. A movement. A gesture. A look. I’ve given myself permission to not fill that silence. The Quakers have an hour every week where they meet and don’t speak; Lessing’s characters in Shikasta grow to intuit without speaking when in the right conditions; I will ensure I keep as much quiet on the end of my tongue as possible.
We live in a computer. We live in a network, we always did. Fungi made the earth one long before we did. If we wish to operate in them – in the human world of friends, family, work – then we need to communicate: speech is demanded of us, working. Voice working. Voice works – all working but sole-working soul-working.
When we look someone in the eye, we ask. We tell.
All things have a voice.
In moving, we make it.
The month hasn’t quelled my desire to investigate the “disembodied voice” as a term, quite the opposite. It has, however, crystallized my thoughts on it and I’d like to push those further.
The next language I’ll learn won’t be a far off one of adapting the tongue to a new end – though Turkish is still tempting – but instead I’ll learn BSL.
If I could prompt you to find a way to take a month off speaking, you might come to the same conclusion or you might gasp back into speaking with a rush – breath after held underwater – but I would like to be quieter, always.
Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something. – Plato