I have more than one kind of silence. There is the very bad kind, the crushing kind. That one I could do without.
There is also the heavy silence. I can force the words to come out, but each one is an effort, like lobbing boulders out of a pit. They land in the dirt around me, scattered, muffled, obscured by clouds of dust. Lobbing boulders is hard work.
There is the accidental silence. The words fly away, leaving gestures, grunts, nothing at all. “Didn’t you see my eyes get wide?” I ask The Scientist when he wonders why I didn’t warn him about the wall he was about to back into.
There is the silence of too much. Too much input. Too much to process. Too many people, things, noises, questions, answers, objects, movement. I feel myself fading into the scenery, disappearing. I become silence itself.
There is hard silence. I purposefully trap the words behind a wall. I know how painful words can be, especially mine–ill-considered, spoken too quickly–they sting and stab at others. The wall keeps us both safe.
There is an old kind of silence, summoned by the fear of looking stupid, buttressed by experience. Even when I’m certain, I’m uncertain. Silence is safety. Again and again and still.
There is simply silence. Unconscious, unobserved, uncomplicated, quiet. Left alone, I could spend days in this silence.
Then there is a kind of joyful silence.
I want to say it’s like a memory I have of White Sands in January. A beautiful day, the desert sun robbed of its bite by winter. I climbed to the top of a dune, sinking my feet into the cool sand, soft and white as sugar. The desert unfolded around me in every direction, rolling away in dunes, flattening out as it approached the mountains, the horizon, the bluest sky you can imagine. Everything so clear and bright and brilliantly real and unreal.
There is a silence like that, and when I’m there, sometimes I’d like to stay just a little longer.