By Kate Kerry Spencer
The world is getting louder. News—real, fake, insightful, dumb, heart wrenching, heartwarming, hilarious, maddening, muddying or clarifying—the whole world of news is in our face--and often, in our hand. I read most of the news on my phone and find that palm-sized version my delivery of choice. Somehow, it feels more manageable in that small, contained environment. I can turn it off whenever I like. At least I think I can.
The world is getting louder. The stakes are higher, the land mass smaller and the population soaring. There are more voices, some heralding, some singing, some screaming, some pleading, some lying, some muted and some silenced. Sometimes, it’s the silence that needs to be heard the most and sometimes, it’s the roar.
Decades ago there were a couple of young singers named Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. They sang, among many other songs, The Sound of Silence. Written by Simon, the song was part poetry, part prophesy and part warning. It was a ballad, sung in a somewhat soft, yet increasingly urgent voice. It began with the line, “Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk to you again.”
Much of the darkness referred to in the song came from the silence of people who will not or cannot speak up, speak out and learn from the warning signs. In the once-young troubadours’ song, no one dared to disturb the sound of silence.
A lot has happened in the world since those two young singers first sang that song. The singers are older now and so is the world.
The world is getting louder because sometimes, things just need to be shouted in order to be heard. #MeToo is a powerful example of united, brave and empowered voices changing a very old, very destructive cultural narrative.
So is a newer version of The Sound of Silence, performed by Disturbed. This is no ballad; it’s an anthem sung with a new message for an older world about the power of voice to change that world. Use your voice in service of something you love and change a corner of the world.
This morning, sit quietly, hand on your heart. Breathe in and feel the power of your breath flowing through you. Breathe out and release any fear or tension about the day ahead. Breathe in and feel the power of your voice in the world. Breathe out and feel at ease with the quiet in the world. Breathe in and feel the promise of a new day. Breathe out and know as you start your day that you are loved, well and whole.
Tonight, lay comfortably in your bed, hand on your heart. Breathe in and silently say to yourself “Goodnight brave woman.” Breathe out and silently say to yourself, “Goodnight brave world.”
Kate Kerry Spencer is a Pacific Northwest writer, editor, and publisher. Learn more about her upcoming memoir, Smoke: A Story of Love, Lies and Cigarettes.
Smoke is the story of fatal consolations--tobacco, denial and deceit--and the second chances that can come to us in the most unlikely places. For this mother and daughter it was a rehab center where the two women wrestled with cigarettes, scrambled brains and each other--and in the process, found the long way back to love.