Monday, March 31, 2014

a year of silence


  I have lost what were probably my last fitness training clients. Who could blame them? No one wants a mime for a personal trainer. It was really nice of them to even give it a try. I sincerely hope to retain them as friends.
  Pretty much all i have for income now are the dogs i take care of. How i love working with them! They are always delighted to see me, which is a nice change from the resigned dread a fitness trainer is usually greeted with. Not one of them seems to have noticed my becoming silent. As long as i smell consistently the same and provide a generous supply of treats, they are my friends for life. Best of all, while i am obliged to pick up their crap, they never give me any.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

a year of silence


  Whenever i'm with people for any length of time, they usually remember me as having "said" this or that, even though i never actually spoke. When i'm alone, the words in my head are so pronounced that i sometimes have to reassure myself that i didn't speak them out loud.
  After years of hearing something, we tend to keep hearing it even after it's gone. Like an amputee can feel pain in a limb that's no longer there.
  How long will it take the silence to establish itself? When does it become the norm instead of an aberration?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

a year of silence


  So much in human relationships is based on reciprocation. When we offer a hand in greeting, we expect one in return. Often, we will cease to love if we are not loved back. Our work declines if there is no reward. We don't leave people voice messages if there is no chance of a return call.
  I have received 2 voice mails since i began this project 3 months ago. Both were from a doctor's office concerning a procedure i had to have.
  I have a close friend that lives out of state, who used to call me at least once a week and leave lengthy and entertaining phone messages. I used to reciprocate far less often, with less lengthy and far less entertaining messages of my own. Due to a time difference and busy schedules, we rarely were able to actually converse. Now that i am silent, and my infrequent return messages are reduced to nil, the entertaining voice mail has ceased. I miss those phone messages.
  I'm afraid my year in silence has been interpreted as a wish to sever ties or at the very least viewed as a selfish discourtesy. Neither is true (as far as i'm consciously aware).
  To expect unconditional love is unrealistic and i'm very doubtful such a thing even exists (except possibly, between parent and child). When someone tells you they love you, they mean right now. Do not take anything for granted.

Friday, March 28, 2014

a year of silence


  Keeping your mouth shut:
  Prevents your hair from getting in it on windy days.
  If you have bad breath, no one will ever know.
  Nobody makes fun of your accent.
  No one "shhhh's" you.
  You don't worry about food being stuck in your teeth.
  You will never be overheard saying something bad.
  Thinking to yourself, "i wish i'd said..." is now a moot point.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

a year of silence


  Many of the people i cross paths with treat me like i'm mentally challenged in some way. I wonder if people who have actual physical impairments experience this kind of behavior?
  When people realize i do not speak, their voices and manner often take on a sympathetic, almost condescending air. They frequently smile, speak slowly and simply, proffering a thumbs up accompanied with a kind nod. I am not offended by this charitable tone. Although misguided, it is well intended. We all tend to pity those we perceive to be "less fortunate" than ourselves.
  Mentally challenged........what a relative term. Maybe i am mentally challenged? Maybe i have been all my life and never realized it until now. I honestly feel just about everyone is mentally challenged in one way or another, we just aren't aware of it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

a year of silence


  It's been around 3 months of silence so far.
  You know that feeling you get.....when you're driving down the highway, and you think that maybe  you've already passed your exit? .......but you keep on driving anyway?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

a year of silence


  Dumb \adj - 4a: not willing to speak
                       6: markedly lacking in intelligence : exasperatingly obtuse

Monday, March 24, 2014

a year of silence


  Everything is so loud now... I find myself using earplugs more and more frequently.
  Actually, the smart thing to do would be to expose myself to noise more often, instead of trying to avoid it. It always seems that when you dislike or are afraid of something, the secret is to immerse yourself in it, not run away from it. When you saturate yourself with something you disdain, you either build up a resistance to it, or learn to appreciate it.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

a year of silence


  Yesterday, a friend told me that when she is with me she feels loud, and that makes her uncomfortable.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

a year of silence


  When you voluntarily categorize yourself as belonging to one group or another for the sake of communal comfort and companionship, you are placing shackles on your mind. I am guilty of doing this by declaring myself to be an artist.
  Everyone carries around this preconceived notion of what an artist is. I consciously and subconsciously try to fit myself into my own notion of what an artist should be. By doing this i am limiting myself by attempting to utilize some kind of guidelines by which to conduct my life.
  I will no longer be female or male, black or white, heterosexual or homosexual, american or chinese, catholic or buddist, left or right. I will not follow any prescribed ideology for my own ease and comfort, or that of anyone else. I will not be anything, i'll just be. A slate has to be blank in order to write on it.

Friday, March 21, 2014

a year of silence


  Ideologies, rule books and preconceptions are intellectually lazy ways of confronting the world. It is much easier to rely on quick subjective preconceptions based on a mental checklist, than it is to form an objective view using cognition. We use labels to judge and categorize everyone conveniently, instead of trying to empathize with individual context.
  I am running into this kind of thinking again and again as my year of silence continues. I am observed and summarily labeled rude and/or "weird" by countless people who make snap judgments about my behavior without even looking into my face, much less taking taking a moment to discover why i am not vocally responding to them.
  I have experienced this kind of bias, based on my perceived "odd" appearance and behavior, long before i ever started this project. In one respect, it is a great source of insight. I think it is good thing for a white male to personally experience some form of prejudice during their lives.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

a year of silence


  I am in the process of trying to make my motorcycle more quiet. This is in direct opposition to many people's idea of what being a motorcyclist is all about.
  I can understand modifying your motorcycle so that it makes more noise in order to make people more aware of your presence. When i'm riding a no-door, pretty much just engine and wheels vehicle, i feel a lot safer when i'm sure people know i'm there. I would rather have car drivers annoyed and aware, than undisturbed and unobservant.
  But having a loud bike would be contrary to my endeavor in silence, so muffling the noise is essential right now.
  Many of my friends who ride are aghast at what they consider to be my "selling out". These are primarily people who consider riding a motorcycle a lifestyle rather than just a form of transportation or an all consuming passion.
  I know people who eat, breathe, live and die for motorcycles. They create, work on, and ride the snot out of their bikes every minute of every hour of their lives. They have found a passion in life that they love and deeply believe in. That kind of devotion is worthy of envy.
  There are also those who consider their motorcycles an economical means of transportation and nothing more. As well as a few who ride bikes occasionally just for fun.
  There are also people who take up motorcycling because they see an image that they want to be. To them being a motorcyclist is wearing certain clothes and behaving a certain way. To deviate from their contrived motorcycle ideology is heresy of the worst kind. They deeply believe in an image, and to silence one's bike is to deviate from that image, and therefore completely unacceptable.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

a year of silence


  We seek constant feedback from others in order to feel secure about ourselves. So much of what we do and who we are relies on external reinforcement. Much of that needed reinforcement is expressed vocally by the people around us.
  Positive or negative feedback dictates our behavior as children. Peer pressure steers our behavior as young adults. Societal norms are our guidelines as we grow older. We always look outside ourselves for guidance, whether we are "right", "left", or in the middle, we find a group whose ideology appeals to us and surround ourselves with it.
  Many of us tend to avoid that which does not conform or is disruptive to our derived idea of the way things should be. When you cannot, or will not, reinforce other people's perception of themselves and the world, you place yourself outside of society as a whole. When you stand outside of something, you get a much different view of it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

a year of silence


  My phone stopped ringing weeks ago. It's dormancy is only broken by an occasional random sales call.
  Being silent has turned out to be a great way to discourage solicitors. The now common practice of being asked for various information when checking out at retail establishments, is immediately cut short by my gesturing that i don't speak. All i do is make that cutting motion at my throat and i'm instantly freed from overly personal information queries, sales pitches, and even requests for spare change by people in the street. Often, no matter how obvious i make it that i can hear the solicitor, just my not providing them with reciprocal vocal feedback is enough to put a halt to any sales or marketing attempt.
  We all seem to rely on feedback from other human beings as a means of affirmation, as well as a guide on how we should proceed. We use other people like a mirror, to make sure our appearance is what we think it should be. If we don't get a reflection, then we are disinclined to show our faces. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

a year of silence

  How much of me is my voice?
  I have a friend who says she misses our in depth, late night phone discussions. She has told me she misses the comforting sound of my voice most of all. I have offered to get together on numerous occasions, but she has expressed no interest in meeting me sans voice.
  My niece is getting married in June and my sister really wanted me to speak at the wedding. Over the years, i have become a sort of family "spokesperson" on important occasions. I will attend the wedding but i will not be speaking, much to my sister's disappointment.
  I have been in the fields of talk radio and personal training. Both of these occupations pretty much rely on having a voice, a vocal expression of personality, that will attract people.
  I have b.s.'d, schmoozed and amused people for the majority of my life. When i stopped making noise, i effectively removed a part of my personality that had existed for years. The funny thing is, while some people seem to miss the noise i used to make, i do not. I don't miss it at all.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

a year of silence


  To me, to be more quiet is to be more calm. To be more calm, is to be more patient. To many other people, quiet is calm, and calm is boring.
  Boredom is just a form of depression. I've known many people who have said that they need to keep occupied by something or they get bored. It doesn't matter if it's the t.v., radio or rearranging the furniture for the millionth time, as long as they are kept busy. If they are not somehow distracted, they get bored and depressed. A lot of these people do not even like to pause and read a book, as it is perceived to be too quiet and no fun.
  These are the same people who tend to get impatient in heavy traffic or in a long checkout line. Things aren't moving, there's nothing going on to hold their attention. Nothing to do but think....


  Silent reflection is often used as a form of punishment. If a child misbehaves, he or she is given a "time out" to sit and quietly think. If prisoners become hard to control, they are placed in solitary confinement, where (i assume) it is quiet and distractions are minimal, forcing them into silent contemplation. When we are displeased with someone, we give them the "silent treatment".
  Silence and the accompanying introspection, are commonly seen as punitive measures. In this country we all have "the right to remain silent", but no one wants to use it.

Friday, March 14, 2014

a year of silence


  In order to behave rationally instead of instinctively, i am learning to act instead of react.
  If i stub a toe my first urge is to yell out (and recite a litany of obscenities). Instead, now i immediately grab something cold to alleviate the injury. If a dog barks or a cat howls, instead of "shushing" them, i give them all my attention straightaway (it works wonders...). If someone's loud music is an annoyance, earplugs are a far better instant remedy, rather than an angry confrontation.
  I constantly strive to maintain a kind of calm in order to avoid becoming rattled by any sudden occurrence. It sounds trite but, often just looking up at the sky seems to help. It's uncluttered, quiet openness is very calming.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

a year of silence


  One of the biggest challenges of being silent is having to deal with my own spontaneous surprised or angry outbursts. It's nearly impossible to predict when something will trigger a sudden yell, so it can be very hard to control.
  An example is if i accidentally place my hand on something scalding. My first instinct is to cry out in surprised anger. Making noise in this kind of situation is instinctual.
  How does one curb natural instinct?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

a year of silence


  Not too long ago, the U.S. government asked Toyota to make the Prius noisier. Apparently, being so quiet makes the Prius more of a hazard.


  When you are quiet, people will physically bump into you more often.
  Many of us walk around in a state of cell phone induced unawareness. The only thing that gets our attention is a firm shake or a loud noise.
  Since i am trying to be more quiet in every aspect, loud footsteps or a spoken "excuse me" are not options. So in order to avoid a collision, i have to be sharp and able to weave like a quarterback on a moment's notice.
  In essence, other people's unawareness has necessitated an increase of my own.

Monday, March 10, 2014

a year of silence


  To be silent is to experience how the world spins without you. So far, it seems to move along just fine.


  Frequently when i attempt to communicate by silently mouthing words, the person i'm conversing with will attempt to finish my sentences as a way of expediting the exchange. I will start a sentence and they will speak aloud what they think i'm trying to express. More often than not, their anticipation of what i'm going to say is incorrect.
  This situation sometimes results in a "Mad Libs" kind of conversation. Their spoken prediction of what i'm about to communicate being wildly different from where i was actually going.
  I rarely correct people when these situations occur. I find these exchanges pretty hilarious, but also a good lesson in humility. It makes me realize that very little of what i have to say is of such grave importance that it doesn't benefit from a humorous abstraction.  

Saturday, March 8, 2014

a year of silence


  So much of what we say is for comfort, not content.
  Some friends of mine have a baby that is now about 3 months old. He recognizes the voices of his mother and father and clearly takes comfort in their sound. But that is all their voices are to him, comforting sounds. He cannot understand what they are saying, but just hearing them is reassurance that he is safe and loved.
  I don't think we ever lose this need for comforting sound. Other people's voices and noise generated by our environments, seems to reassure many of us that we are not alone. In the past, i've had people call and say, "I just needed to hear your voice." I've yet to be contacted by someone who's said, "I just needed to receive a text from you."

Friday, March 7, 2014

a year of silence


  There is no crime in having nothing to say. It can be a welcome respite for those around us. The mistake lies in having nothing to say and an irresistible urge to talk about it.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

a year of silence


  What is it that makes us loudly exclaim when we are awestruck by something beautiful?
  I have had no difficulty remaining silent until i attended a recent exhibition of modern Art at the museum. Upon encountering the transcendent work of Vincent, Giorgio de Chirico, Pollock and Rothko, it took every effort of will i could muster to stifle my delighted gasps.
  Not only do these masterpieces make me feel like a 4 foot tall basketball player, they were very nearly the undoing of my year of silence.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

a year of silence


  I am learning a lot about the human face as this piece progresses.

- faces are almost always very asymmetrical
- eyes are very rarely all one color, they contain many shifting colors and hues
- a person's face is more expressive on their left side
- pupil dilation is a great way to discern whether a person has a positive or negative reaction to something
- if you stare too intently into someone's face, they are liable to assume you're flirting with them....

  Human faces are SO expressive that speech almost seems superfluous. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

a year of silence


  To be "still" is a commonly used term for being silent. Stillness is contrary to a society that associates noisy activity with productivity.


  I envy people who can quietly hold their composure as a virtual maelstrom rages around them. Nothing disturbs them as they efficiently accomplish whatever task is at hand. I am not one of those people.
  I am easily distracted by interesting things that draw my eye, and noises that assault my ears. Calmness has become a necessity in order for me to accomplish anything. Stillness is something i love and constantly seek out. I am at odds with a culture where a hectic day without pause is regarded as a successful one. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

a year of silence


  Noise is often employed as a means of distraction from what might be an otherwise tedious activity. We play the radio in traffic, we hum or whistle while doing housework, and we crack our knuckles while we wait in line.
  If you've ever attended a "boring" lecture, you have probably noticed that coughing, seat creaking, foot shuffling, etc, increases in direct proportion to the perceived monotony level of the speaker. With our ever decreasing attention spans, this is becoming more and more common.
  While some public speakers (and blog writers) are somewhat lacking in magnetic charisma, have we become too quick to dismiss that which is quiet and more subtle? If something or someone doesn't grab our attention in 2 or 3 minutes, do we put in our ear buds or start firing off texts to keep ourselves occupied?
  We seem more inclined to actively seek noisy distraction rather than engage in more complex thought provoking pursuits. Just being kept busy is enough to keep many of us from becoming bored.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

a year of silence


  Silence is (or used to be) associated with reverence and respect. We are quiet in temples or churches, and we still show respect for someone speaking by not making noise.
  Being noisy can be a very effective way of demonstrating complete disrespect for somebody or something. As our empathy and respect for one another slowly erodes away, the noise our society makes grows steadily louder.