Friday, January 2, 2009

On Silence

*picture courtesy of HDR Landscapes

I began the new year in silence. I was up until around this time yesterday morning, so got I to watch the first sunrise, and revel in the morning silence. It wasn't intentional--just a mixture of my periodic insomnia and my still on-going stomach infection thing. And despite the stomach pains, it was a really nice feeling.

I've almost forgotten about silence. When I was in high school, we used to have what they called one minute of silence after breaks. If I remember right it was "to pray for peace..." and something like that. I don't really know if everyone took it seriously--I admit that most of the time I didn't. I was usually half sleepy during those times, or just plain out of focus, probably praying for my Physics teacher to be absent.

But I've always appreciated silence. I don't know if growing up in a school run by nuns did that to me, or if I'm just really introverted. I can sit for minutes, and possibly hours with my silence and my thoughts. It's calming.

Another high school memory: we had a retreat, during our senior year. In Tagaytay, of course. It was early November, and it was such a relief to be there that I almost wanted to be a nun. Plus the food was great. Haha. It's one of my favorite memories from high school. We spent the mornings, afternoons and evenings in prayer, reflection, and other stuff retreats are made of. Then we spent the odd hours sneaking food into the dorms, playing card games, taking scandalous pictures (I didn't join in on that, though), and calling people up--when we weren't allowed food, cards, cameras, and phones in the dorms at all. We had to surrender them, but of course we didn't. We skillfully hid them in our luggage, and we got them past the slightly freaky inspection process. Haha. They pooled the beds together and made quite a party out of it. I distinctly remember my Australian lab partner telling ghost stories. It was hard to decide when I was supposed to be scared, since she talked kind of fast. Yeah, nose bleed. Haha.

That last paragraph had nothing to do with silence. It was nostalgic rambling, as you may have noticed. Sorry.

On the first morning of that three-day, two-night retreat, I showered earlier than my dorm mates, and decided to head out and spend time alone with the life-sized statues of our school saints in the garden. I just wanted to take in the view. But somehow I ended up thinking, and praying--I remember I had left behind a lot of issues in Manila that time. And until now I haven't forgotten that feeling that just came over me. I think I may have felt the peace that the sisters were always talking about. And I still don't know what changed, but something did after that. And I came to love the silence.

I didn't get to do it again--by the second morning I had a terrible headache (I didn't know if it was from Steph's stories or from all the potato chips), and we all slept in so late that our adviser had to wake us up for breakfast. But since then, I knew I needed silence to keep me sane.

Lately, I've been to celebrations where the people never seem to stop wanting to talk. I've been through another noise-filled New Year's Eve, with the fireworks on one hand, and my singing neighbors on the other. I've almost forgotten to be silent. In a few days I will be back in school with all the fuss and noise, and stories about the break. So I'm glad I got to enjoy my silence early this year. And of course I'll be looking for it, in the oddest places. Silence keeps me sane.

This has been an ironically long-winded blog about silence (well, technically I'm not really talking). But anyway, I'll stop here. I've been rambling about silence, now I'll leave you to enjoy yours.

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