It's been 2 weeks since i embarked on my year of silence. This is the longest period of time i have ever been quiet, so far.
The first day i was kind of nervous and panicky. It was as if i was about to embark on a long journey to a foreign country. But those feelings quickly gave way to a contemplative determination.
I have had dreams in which i accidentally spoke, and became angry with myself for doing so. In others i tried to speak, but it was as if i was under water, my voice garbled and barely audible.
The encounters i have had with the general public so far, have been quite varied. In an ironic twist, a librarian became loudly impatient with me because i wouldn't speak. A checkout person at the supermarket started to amiably chat with me, and continued non-stop the entire time she rang up my groceries. She never noticed i had not uttered a single word. For the most part, i think people assume i'm hearing impaired.
A friend suggested i learn sign language to facilitate my being able to communicate. While i think learning sign language is great idea for anyone, this project is not about learning how someone with a hearing impairment experiences life. It is about silence and its effect on people (myself included).
Some gestures i have employed include, waving my hand in front of my throat in a cutting motion to let people know i do not speak, and pointing to my ear while giving the thumbs up sign, to let them know i can hear.
I have found that when people think you have a disability, they are often extremely kind and go out of their way to help you. If they realize you are intentionally forgoing the "gift" of speech, the reaction can be just the opposite.