Mind the Gap

Joe —  Fri 29-Jan-10

“Music and silence combine strongly because music is done with silence, and silence is full of music.” – Marcel Marceau

Being very new to this writing world, one in which I have very little skill but a great eagerness to learn, I am amazed at some early discoveries. My favorite is learning how many words need to be written to find the right ones. I would guess that I probably cut out 4-5 words for every word I include. This past sentence alone was originally a whole paragraph.

The main reason so much material gets cut is that it takes the place of the reader and doesn’t allow them to become part of the conversation. In other words I fill in gaps with personal stories, examples or observations that would best be left for the reader to imagine. By not filling in the space I allow someone else to fill their mind with their experiences and thoughts. I allow them to make a connection.

Music staff.pngWhen I thought about this it dawned on me that this was something my high school band teacher taught me 30 years ago.

“Beginning musicians concern themselves with playing the notes – the better ones with playing the rests.”

I don’t know whether it is our own insecurities or a world gone ADHD mad that cause us to be so uncomfortable with silence, the musical rests inserted into our lives, but it is quite prevalent. I am probably one of the worst offenders. Why do we have a need to fill in all the blanks? Every time we do that we take away an opportunity for someone else to contribute or to just soak up the last thing that was said.

I was visiting one of my dearest friends at his home. He was recovering from a long hospital stay. We talked for a while (and we both can talk for hours on end), then something magical happened…


We just sat there not feeling any obligation to fill in the soundtrack. It was an amazing moment for me. You know you have a great friend when you can both just sit there and say nothing and be completely satisfied. It is only now that I realize that is how much of my life is spent with my best friend, my wife Beth – just sitting together basking in each other’s silence.

I wish I were wise enough to have really understood what Mr. Wiegel taught me back in high school band.

Today’s Question
Do you find in your practice that silence says more than words? If so, do you purposefully use silence as a tool to promote communications?