Allegra in the sun

Guest post by Angie Bailey

Have you ever met someone who veers toward the verbose side when a few words — or even silence — will do the trick? If you’ve met me, then you certainly have. I think my loquacious leanings are partly because I’m an extrovert, but also because I sometimes feel nervous and need to stuff empty space with words, no matter how trivial. When I find myself jabbering in circles, I’m typically met with either blank stares or polite smiles. And then I continue jabbering, because it feels safe to fill the gaps.

Cats are completely comfortable with silence; they even walk silently. What’s more peaceful than the calm quiet of a cat? Their eye and tail movements speak volumes without even once muttering a meow. I’ve certainly met some chatty cats; in fact, my Phoebe is one who isn’t afraid to speak. The difference is that when she speaks, it’s purposeful: she has a message to convey. I also have messages, but sometimes they could be communicated in fewer, more thoughtful, words — or even discarded completely.

Silence helps me formulate ideas instead of blurting whatever happens to be on the tip of my tongue. Blurting can cause regret, confusion, annoyance, and even hurt feelings. Words are powerful and should be offered thoughtfully. Sometimes silence is the space needed to create the perfect words. Silence in conversation can feel uncomfortable; however, I’d much rather stop and find the perfect message rather than respond with a knee-jerk reaction. I’ve also learned that when someone asks me for advice or a response, it’s okay to ask for some time to mull over the request. Most people understand.

Although I love to talk, I savor the tranquility of the early morning. Everyone else is sleeping and the cats and I sit quietly together in meditation. The energy of silence feels so much stronger than the buzz and babble that occupy most of my day. I feel an overwhelming sense of peace as I watch my cats stretch in the sun or gaze out a window. They don’t even have to DO anything, and their harmonious vibe is contagious. It’s the same with people. Have you ever been around someone who just radiated peace and balance? I have, and that energy immediately shifted the entire space. I want to be that person. I want to capture my early morning tranquility and carry it with me throughout the day. I want to access that placidity when I feel nervous and chatty for no good reason but to fill space. I want to remember the calm when someone tries to engage me in gossipy conversation.

Silent spaces are beneficial to our mind, body and spirit. Creating that space for meditation, prayer, or just for thought between words is a life-changing practice. I’ve even found a certain peaceful power in quiet moments. It’s funny — I thought I was feeling power by finding ways to fill gaps in conversations. What I found is that power is IN the gap. Cats reside in the gap, and I’m looking forward to spending a little more time there.

Copyright © 2012 Angie Bailey. All Rights Reserved.

This article was previously published in Edge Magazine and is republished with permission. Angie Bailey is an award-winning Minnesota writer/blogger, cat fancier, word game junkie, creative-project dabbler, music lover, food enthusiast, wife, and mother to two humans and three cats. She spends most of her days enjoying her family, writing, blogging, playing Scrabble, laughing at her cats’ shenanigans, and finding the silliness in most everything. Visit Catladyland for a daily dose of Angie’s cat-centric humor.

8 Comments on Sunday Purrs: Silence

  1. Hi Ingrid,

    Very Eckhart Tolleian.

    Simon & Garfunkel once told me to Listen To The Sound Of Silence, so I did. I liked what I experienced.

    Though I like to converse a bit, I appreciate it when a friend and I can have a few gaps of companionable silence. It’s very comforting and my opinion of anyone who can do this always goes up when ever they manage to do this. It’s like a valuable gift.

    I find the company of cats to be very calming and you’ve explained why in your nice post.

    I also find comfort in meditation – stilling the mind. The soul likes the peace of stillness while the mind always wants to move around and create waves to incite action and drama. I guess you could say that the two are polar opposites and are always at war.

    Good observations in the writing.


    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

  2. This is really good stuff! I have the same tendency to try to fill the empty spaces with nervous chatter. (By the way, one of my cats does the same thing! Maybe he learned it from me? :)) Thank you for the reminder that silence really is golden and can be so beneficial for us when we learn to practice it.

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