Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Desire for Silence

I do not suppose many of the readers of this blog will be old enough to remember, “The Goon Show” and its memorable characters including Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan? They once did a sketch where it was possible to go into a shop and purchase a length of silence. It was a very humorous sketch that has stuck with me down the years. Yesterday I would have given anything for the sound of silence, if just for a short time. I began early with a neighbour pruning trees and it seemed to continue most of the day, one thing after another.

Music is often the stimulus to painting for me, but there are as when I crave silence. It seem we live in an age that has become afraid of silence, the remote control age, where people move from room to room picking up remote controls as they go. An age when we put on televisions, and the get on with other things and ignore what is on. An age, when if we are not careful, evolution will develop ear pods and cell phone attachments at birth. I exaggerate, but you know what I mean.

What used to be background music, to stimulate nice thoughts, floods our being, at every turn. I fear we live in the age of communication where the one thing we seldom, if ever, communicate with ourselves.

There is the ancient story of the four monks who decided to keep silence for seven days. On the first day they were silent. The meditation had started well, but when night came and the candles began to dim one of the monks said, ”Who is going to fix the candles?”

The second monk was surprised to hear this and exclaimed, “We are not supposed to speak.”

“You two are stupid. Why did you speak?” remarked the third.

“I am the only one who has not spoken,” said the fourth.

It is not easy to be silent with oneself, but it is worth the time. As many of the wise have said, “be still and know yourself.”

this blog is linked to my other where I talk abou the art used:- Silence


  1. So true. I think that's why we like that undisturbed time in front of the easel or those quiet moments in nature, gardening... It isn't only listening to the silence around us, but also time to listen to ourselves. (Or maybe loved ones passed or a higher being speaking to us...)

    I relish my quiet moments. I wish your silence today, Ralph, at least for a few moments...

  2. I pretty much live in silence when my daughter and the girls are not around. Then again, the inside of my head never shuts up. I rarely even have the radio on in the car any more. Silence really IS golden!

  3. "The Sounds of Silence are written on the Subway Walls" sometimes the noise is there because we don't want to listen. Yet, when we are able, silence allows the other senses to develop.
    We can listen, we can smell, we can see farther and with clearer eyes. and...maybe see what is "written on the tenement walls"

  4. Jerry I just knew that you were listening lol

  5. Hi Ralph, I always check out your Blog first! You are my inspiration for the day! but I still like a good fight! LOL

  6. Ha Ha I check out yours also but I am not into a fight I am looking so hard jerry for that inner peace. I keep thinking I have found it but it slips away. The joy is i am getting closer and closer.

  7. I think that you're right about our culture having noise on all of the time. Quiet is hard to come by. But, after a week of time near my Dad's place, where the traffic noise was a constant thrum in my ears, I appreciated the silence of home even more. How hectic I felt inside with the unwelcome noise. Later, soothed by silence.

    Are you guys listening to those old Simon and Garfunkle albums again?!

  8. I crave silence..then if I get it..rare occurance I become like the 4 monks in your story..

  9. I used to love Simon and Garfunkel. And I've also noticed how many people are not fully present because they are on their mobiles. Enjoy your day, Ralph.

  10. Growing up in a busy household with many children I learned early to find silence within it is not difficult for me living in a city....I do not hear the noise around me unless I choose to.
    I virtually live in silence; very seldom television; occasionally music; telephone turned off!
    Beware though of too much silence!