Silence is a funny thing. It can be a blissful experience yet one of the most maddening (I am writing this to music which should tell you something). We struggle with silence it would seem, although why is a difficult question, as far as I can tell anyway. One reason I can imagine is that there is no feedback. I mean that when we act in the world, we need some form of response to know if that action is correct. This is why in conversation body language and small verbal responses (“yeah,” “mmmm” and the like) from the other party are essential (also why Zoom sucks). However, nothing is more awkward than a long car ride where nothing is said when you think something should be said. We, in a sense, need confirmation that everything is normal. So it would seem reasonable to me that when there is silence we don’t know what to do with ourselves.

This leads to another reason for our fear of silence; what that silence will produce. What I mean is that as our mind wanders, there is a non-trivial chance that it will wander to something unpleasant. Whether it be a fight, a mistake, or some such similar regret. It is the darkness within that we fear will come to the surface if it is dwelled upon.

We for obvious reasons hate this and would much prefer to have something else fill the void. Not a bad method as far as it goes. I’ve discovered that if you have the nasty propensity for existential OCD (as I have to a certain extent) it is best to not dwell on it. However, when we do this too much, we end up avoiding one of the best avenues of self-reflection possible; spending time with ourselves uninterrupted by the world around us.

The importance of silence can be surmised as a way to confront ourselves and truly explore the world around us. The absence of noise allows us to truly focus on what we truly know, think, and believe. My best ideas come from silence (it occurs to me that’s not a good selling point). Without outside input to direct your thoughts said thoughts will wander. I think this is a good thing. So I guess the moral here is to allow for times of silence in an ever-busy world.


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