Lifestyle & Culture

The Luxury of Silence

February 7, 2016




OFTEN WHEN I GO out to dinner in a busy restaurant I am struck by how much the cacophony of all the other patrons sounds like hundreds of chickens clucking. What could everyone possibly be saying to one another while their food is getting cold? I wonder that too when I see people walking out in public with cell phones held to their ears.  Sometimes I hear a snatch of their conversations as I pass by, and it’s often something like, “Where should we eat?” or “Okay, I’ll call you later,” promising even more talk about nothing very important.

Which is funny, because the older I get, the less I have to say. Out loud, that is. So I am tempted to sign up for a week-long silent retreat to be held at a Buddhist conference center in the Maryland woods in a few months. You arrive and check in — I guess talking is allowed for that part — and then just don’t talk for the next seven days. There are meals taken in a big dining hall but eaten in silence and daily classes where I assume the teacher speaks, but I am just assuming. Maybe the teacher just sits up on the podium and thinks deep thoughts and you get them because your senses are so refined at that point, from all the not talking.

Anyway, this silent retreat business has always had an appeal for me. (My husband often suggests we take a cruise somewhere, but the thought of all the constant clucking turns me off to the idea. If I could find a silent cruise through the Greek Islands, I’d definitely go.) But the price tag for the Maryland woods, room-with-a-stranger-and-shared-bath experience is nearly $2,000, and I started thinking of all the other things I could do with that money and just be silent all by myself, so I decided against it. In fact, if anyone wants to come and stay at my house for a week and not say anything and pay me, just let me know.

— Andrea Rouda
Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid.

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