There is a wisdom to be found in silence.
The young and impetuous, either of body or spirit live for noise, for volume, to chatter and hear their own voices, to sing unprompted in wild and uninvited tones. Maturity brings long, passionate spaces, deep wells of feeling. Age does not promise this, maturity is something different.
It involves a giving up of yourself, an understanding that you may not stand at the centre of your own story, a willingness to remove yourself from the spotlight. It can mean embracing those in need with silence, with a knowing look and a cocked ear, offering nothing while receiving everything.
We know the answers to everything. Of course we do. When applied to others, our otherwise faltering vast knowledge regarding the world and its fixing is spot on and non-negotiable. Our stellar advice should always be heeded, disregarding the smouldering wreck of our own lives from which it comes. Do as we say, not as we do.
Yet to go with someone, to travel into their darkness, to step into their shadow a while takes wisdom. It is the far harder road than the one where you interject your own opinion into every comment, where every phrase is cut short as you attempt to beat someone’s need for understanding with ill thought or generic solutions.
To listen is not enough. You need to hear. You need to empathise.
The inability to express ourselves fully is like a hand on your soul. It presses down hard and squeezes and we choke. If, when that expression seeks release it is pushed back down under the weight of advice, or suggestion or good intention, then we die a little. Each time. It’s like trying to break the surface and getting pulled back under by the tide; each time tires you that little bit more until, inevitably, the darkness takes you.
Offer youself. Offer board within your soul. Give safe harbor.
We all know the answers to everything, given the right forum. We are, all of us smart and bright and beautiful. Even in darkness we know what we should do.
Yet, sometimes we can’t.
Allow for that. Silence is not apathy. It is not a lack of care.
It is strength.