Sometimes when I'm in a classroom a silence will descend, generally when it's willed by myself and compliant students bend to that will, and, very occasionally, just by accident, emerging from the circumstances of the moment. I really enjoy those moments, especially when the silence manifests but the preceding noise is still somehow lingering, at least in memory. The sudden stillness is so rich, so full of possibility somehow.
It just so happens that I enjoyed a couple of moments today comprising such descents and they got me wondering whether we - I mean people in general, we human stuff - actually need silence, hunger for it. At least sometimes.
No, that's not quite true. The question as to whether we need silence emerged also from the fact that I've actually read, or heard, the claim that we do a couple of times in the last few days. Encountering the claim I immediately felt assent, it chimed with my own experience. I know for sure I need the stuff. And it was, in a way, reassuring to be told that I'm not so different from other folk in this regard.
But here's the thing. If we do in some essential way need silence why are we so good these days at making darn sure it's so hard to achieve? I can't think of any public space in which there aren't concerted attempts to abolish any quiet that might intrude. All too frequently piped music inhabits the space where silence might have been, but there are other techniques to ensure we don't get what we need and, at some level, crave for (as some of the experts say we do.)