Embracing the Silence

by Gurpreet Sihat

I’m curled up on the armchair by my bedroom window as I write this, watching a red kite gliding through the air. It’s low today. It’s bloody huge! There was a fox in the garden when I opened my curtains this morning. Plodding along from one fence to the other before disappearing into the woods behind my house. It makes me think of those Enid Blyton books I used to read as a child: The Enchanted Wood. Have you read those? I used to sit on the hammock in the back garden reading them, pretending I was up in the Faraway Tree with all these wonderous magical characters. The parakeets haven’t made their usual racket today. Maybe it’s too cold for them. Maybe they’ve just had enough apples from the tree behind my garage to bother wandering in this direction. Maybe they’ll show up later. Dark clouds are making way for light, fluffy ones, sitting on the brightest blue sky. It’s like someone’s painted it on. 

This past week, I’ve wanted silence. I’ve sent a few messages out on the group chats I’m part of, but then I exhaust myself quickly and disappear again. That’s not to say I haven’t been social. Two friends have been allowed to video call. We’ve been watching TV together. Bill and Ted Face the Music. High Society. Will – a new discovery with Jamie Campbell Bower playing Christopher Marlowe. LOVE. But otherwise it’s just been me. Occasionally listening to music, sometimes watching an episode or two of Blue Bloods, but most of the time, just me. In silence.

It’s unlike me. Silence. I hate it. It gives me too much time to think. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my own company. The voices in my head are usually far more interesting than the people around me. But this week, I’ve needed it. I’ve needed to get away from the screeching of people and their problems. Of how they deal with their problems by creating problems for me instead. That’s not to say I’ve been in a bad mood. I haven’t. A seven out of ten on the mood scale, which is decent. 

I’ve gotten some client work done, I’ve listened to Letitia Wright talk about her career with the London Film Festival, I’ve sorted out my external hard-drives and I’ve decided to go a new route with my fantasy series and have started replotting the beast – which has been so fun, I can’t even find the words! I’ve even been listening to Michael Caine read his autobiography, Blowing the Bloody Doors Off. It’s been a nice week. 

But, at the heart of it all, silence.

The week before was difficult. My body decided to revolt against me, everyone decided to dump their problems on me without so much as a ‘hello’, other people’s COVID issues suddenly became my fault. Even my dreams were weird and unkind. But there was a message in the middle of it all. The daughter of a friend across the ocean: a good morning message, that told me I was loved. Actually, it was a you’re-the-most-non-heinous-and-excellent-person-take-care-of-yourself-because-you-deserve-some-self-care-I’m-always-here-if-you-need-me-you-are-loved message. That Bill and Ted reference totally deserves to be acknowledged! It completely changed my mood. 

So, silence, this week, has been my self-care. I’ve stepped away from conversations that I haven’t the emotional capacity to deal with. I’ve taken time off work to write. I’ve stepped away from trying to read to actually do things that will make me feel comfortable instead of stressed (seriously, have you ever tried reading when you’re in a reading slump?). I’ve even been sleeping in in the mornings and, on a day where my head was splitting and my eyes were aching, I TOOK A NAP!

Self-care doesn’t always mean take a bubble bath, read a book, get a massage, light some candles. Sometimes it just means take a step back. Embrace the silence. And that’s exactly what I intend to continue. 

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