I catch the pattern
Of your silence
Before you speak
I do not need
To hear a word
In your silence
Every tone I seek
by Langston Hughes
I used to think my mom was invalidating my feelings when she’d tell me to be silent after telling her about a heated argument I had just had or something that was upsetting me. I now fully understand what my mom meant when she’d say “thula ngathi ufile” which basically means “be silent as though you were dead”. I get it now and value this principle more than anything else – in fact, I live by it.
It’s really not everything that needs to be entertained and replied to. Some situations require a certain level of intelligence that does not include speaking. Sometimes when words are exchanged, meaning is lost in translation and what might have been intended to heal will end up hurting. Silence gives you the time to process, evaluate and consider all sides of a situation.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most emotionally intelligent person, if you’re like me then you can agree that the whole ‘silence’ thing is the very last thing you want to do in situations that get you riled up. My moms advice came into play when I realised how terrible situations can get if you give your immediate reaction instead of simply keeping silent. I realised after having many arguments that resulted in break ups of many relationships that I was doing something wrong. I wasn’t giving enough weight to my words and it kept backfiring. I was responding simply out of my own ignorance, anger and lack of understanding. But I’m at a different place now, a place where I value my relationships and my peace and of valuing my peace means being able to preserve it by not entertaining certain things.
The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is not easily tempered. See, the best part of keeping silent sometimes is that you have the power to decide whether or not someone or a situation will consume you. Silence is a killer, no one knows what you’re thinking or how you feel and that causes the greatest discomfort. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we have to be ignorant to how we feel or not voice out or feelings but at the RIGHT time in the RIGHT way. Keep silence for peace not out of timidness, that’s the goal. How do you know it’s right if you haven’t given yourself time to look at all sides and fully understand the root of something?
I want to believe that we can all do better, at everything. Sometimes things that upset you, should not really upset you and yet they do. We often think in a one-sided way, and we put our opinions and emotions first instead of thoroughly scrutinising in order to come out with the best possible way forward. Value your peace by giving yourself time to be quiet.
“A time to keep silent, and a time to speak.”
KADAN – (n) “where the heart lies”, an all-purpose word for a person one cares about, including friends, family and loved ones.