I’m a “Shhh-usher.” I don’t know exactly when I became a “Shhh-usher,” but I’m pretty sure it was around the time I had kids. I “Shhh-ushed” people when the babies were asleep (For the love of God, don’t wake them up!!!), and then I “Shhh-ushed” the kids themselves when they became, well, kids, who tended to talk, or yell, or blurt things out at inappropriate times. I also “Shhh-ushed” them when I really just needed a break from tiny, high-pitched voices. (Oh, don’t give me that judgey thing–you’ve wished them temporarily mute, too.)
It’s a tremendously useful word–or sound, or whatever it is. One quick “Shhh!”, accompanied by the requisite glare, was magic when it came to the need for blessed silence. It didn’t always work, but when it did–Aaaahhhhh!
I’m pretty sure the sound, and the gesture, are universal, too. Which may be rather telling when we recognize that we all, no matter who we are or where we’re from, have the need for silence.
Recently, I read My Stroke of Insight, by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. It’s the story of her devastating stroke and recovery, and it’s fascinating stuff. However, one part struck me. When Taylor had her stroke, she remarked on how a part of her brain was silenced–the constant “brain chatter” running through her mind, quiet. She was entirely, completely in the present moment, given her brain’s injury.
As she recovered, and her mind began to heal, Taylor made a choice: She would decide when to allow her brain to talk to her, and when to tell it to “Shhh.”
I’ve tried it, and guess what? It works! Not perfectly, and I usually have to repeat it to myself (I don’t like people telling me what to do, even if it’s me doing the telling), but after a few well-timed “Shhh-ushes,” and an internal glare towards my chattering mind, I’ve been able to grab moments of silence.
Silence. What a gift, in the midst of the non-stop assault of noise in our world. With life’s constant commotion, I don’t need my own mind to add to it. And in our nation’s current of angst, my brain’s been chattering overtime. It’s time to take a break.
So, “Shhhhhhh, already!” And if you happen to see me “Shhh-ushing,” and no one is around, I’m likely “Shhh-ushing” myself. I probably deserve it. Sometimes, my brain needs to remember that silence is indeed, golden.