Alright, it's mostly just upon me, since I'm the crazy kid who decided to take on the challenge of my Living Religions of the East professor and observe the austerity of silence for the next 36 hours.
The jury's still out on whether or not blogging is a form of cheating, but I don't consider this a complete act of communication until I post a link to Facebook...so I'll just go on putting my thoughts down while I'm having them and worry about the fine print later.
I didn't decide until Tuesday night that I was going to for sure give this project a go. I never thought it was impossible, but the logistics of the thing freaked me out. Would I sound like a brat if I said that on many days of the year I truly can't avoid talking?
It's true! My generation is built around communication. Even the failure to have an unlimited texting plan for your cell phone can make you akin to a social hermit.
Facebook, email, text messages- they're the way we stay in touch with each other (or, to be more blunt, the way we stalk each other). And the thought of going without all these things was enough to put me in quite a panic in the hours leading up to 8:00 p.m. this evening.
I'm the type of person who couldn't even stand to stay home from school for a day because I would miss too much of the hot gossip. I live in fear of being on the outskirts of an important news update (even if it's just that one of my best friends got a haircut) and I guess that's why so many people tell me that I'd make a great journalist. Consequently, it's also why I rarely miss an update to my Facebook newsfeed. It's almost pathetic how well-informed I am about other people's lives.
And I'm pretty sure it was this potential patheticism that inspired me to welcome this silence into my life. I spend so many hours of the day reading and talking about other people's lives that I forget to put valuable time into examining what's happening to me...unless it's to shape it into a clever status that will garner plenty of "likes" from my friends.
It was this very same problem that plagued me with guilt this summer. Even in the midst of the most amazing experience of my young life, I still spent more hours of my life engaged in social media than I dare admit. Where was the me time? Where was the peace that I promised myself when I was reading and rereading text messages trying to determine what the person on the other end of the cell tower could possibly have meant?
The goal of a vow of silence for "world-renouncers" in the Hindu tradition is to build up inner power, or heat. Austerities build up heat that can release you from the cycle of rebirth and into the higher level of being.
And as far from my Presbyterian upbringing as that sounds, it actually makes a lot of sense to me. Silence is inward. It forces you to remain within your own mind. To be fully in tune with yourself. (Comically, the only slip-ups I have had so far were to comment on things out loud to myself.)
The forms of communication I have left behind pull me outward. They stretch out my consciousness to include discussions of the bachelorhood of a poet that hit on Rebecca's friend or the likelihood that Nadal will be able to take down Djokovic in tomorrow's final.
"Kelsey" ceases to be one person living one life. She becomes a negotiator of many lives, advising Brittany about her long-distance love while simultaneously watching a movie with her mom. Making weekend plans with Andrew while catching-up with Beth. The energy she has to put into her own thoughts is splayed out over a thousand different conversations as she copies and pastes the advice of others into her own decision-making.
Silence is about being forced to live within yourself. To come to terms with only your own advice. To get to know what is truly best for you.
I find nothing essentially wrong with the over-communication of my generation...it's just dangerous. And these 36 hours are about collecting the pieces of my consciousness that I've been spreading throughout the tri-state area.
It's going well so far. Even though I feel somewhat like stories are fighting to get out of me like air always did during holding-your-breath contests at the Kasa's pool, I'm generally calm. I've dominated an essay for Virginia Woolf class and a Vocabulary practice test for the GRE. I'm getting to bed early so that I can wake-up for a run and some me-time.
I feel the pieces of myself finding their way back...and I almost want to scream out in joy. But that, of course, would be cheating. ;)
Peace, love and perfect silence,