The Sound of Silence

The Sound of Silence

There is a beautiful scene at the end of the Academy-Award nominated film, The Sound of Metal where the character just sits in silence.  He has undergone an ordeal during the plot of the film.  He begins as a heavy metal drummer in a band with his girlfriend, who lives in a tour bus and thinks only of the music.  Then he experiences a profound and permanent hearing loss.  His only hope of retaining his current life, is the possibility of a cochlear implant – an expensive and uncertain solution, especially for a pair of gypsy musicians.

Although he goes to live in a remote community of deaf people, learns to sign and finds some sparks of a new life, the pull of the old life and the old love is so strong he turns his back on this and undergoes the surgery.  The result is not quite what he expected – the sounds are distorted, as is his vision of his old life. The girlfriend has moved on. The band has broken up. Everything has changed – including him.

At the end of the film he sits amidst the noise of the cityscape, and then takes off his hearing devices. The result is a moment of pure silence.  In this moment he notices all that is still beautiful about the world – the sun shining through clouds, the trees, the architecture of the city…. Although he has sought rescue from the quiet, he learns that there is much to perhaps embrace in it.  This final moment – where all his plans have fallen apart and the future he longed for dissolves – is strangely peaceful.  It is a moment of acceptance.  Of letting go.

We each create a world that is full of “noise”.  It may not be physical noise, but in many ways it is similar to the distortion Ruben experiences towards the end of the film.

We fill up our time with speaking – feeling a need to fill every silent moment we spend with another person.

We fill up our days with errands and appointments and things that fill up time.  We work more than we should.  We shop more than we should.  We complain more than we should.  We spend less time alone than we should.

And when we are alone, what is the first thing we do?  We tend to reach for our phones and engage with the greatest distortion of them all – social media.  Social media creates great internal chatter and unrest – filling us up with images of the way we should look, the lifestyle we should have, the clothes we should be buying, the food we should be eating at the restaurants we should be visiting and the great times everyone else is having without us.

In many ways I wonder if we are like Ruben, just before this transformative moment occurs.  Our worlds, and our minds are busy, noisy places.  We are full of thoughts and expectations. Of measurements and comparisons.  Of regrets, of dreams, of wondering if we are enough. Some of these are hard to let go of.  And if we never take a moment of silence to reflect, how will we find peace and perspective?

There is much to be said for the sound of silence, and the daily habit of mindfulness.  It is only in the stillness that truth can be apparent, and that the most important voice of all can be heard – our own.


Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

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