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  • Yasmeen Hossain

How much silence is too much silence?

Updated: Aug 10, 2019

Excerpt from my upcoming book "Don't Practice Your Spirituality, Live it.. and Other Sage Advice I Received."

Lonely chair in a room, silence

Complete silence - the whole expansive abyss of it - engulfs me. The length of it yawns on until eternity with no end in sight. The only noise to let me know I have not tumbled head-first into the abyss is a gentle and rhythmic “snr, snr, snr, snr…”. Praise the Gods for cat snores, oftentimes the most soothing and welcoming sound in the entire universe. If you have ever heard a cat snore, you know what I’m talking about.

I am home alone. Not only that, but my dear husband has in fact moved out and on to greener pastures. At least in his view, as he never was able to fall in love with Alaska the way I did. He went back to his childhood home, New England. Home of the patriots, or pioneers, wait that's not the right word, what are those little guys with the funny hats called that start with “P”…. pilgrims? No PURITANS. There you go. One of the first things my husband said to me when we first started dating was that he was from the land of the puritans and as such I shall not expect any PDA (public display of affection) of him. That lasted all but 5 seconds as I then insisted on attacking his mouth with mine while in a restaurant - a *public* restaurant - in response to his “puritan-speech.”

In any case, he is there, starting his new job tomorrow, already settled in with a new bank account and new car, while I am still in Alaska in our “old” house with my “old” bank account and “old” car. We decided on this temporary separation, in part because the moving, packing and then the 16 hour journey south was just too much for my ragged state of ill-health, as I am still getting my strength back after an extremely long dis-ease (see Chapter 3), and in part because I am just not ready to say goodbye forever to my beloved Alaska.

All my life I have been whining about wanting to experience how it is to live alone – as a middle child I was never home alone and then I had a whole string of roommates in my adult life – and now that I somehow ended up with 4 glorious weeks of living alone, I suddenly find myself saying (to myself of course as there is no one else here to say it to): Wait a minute.. is this what I was after all this time?? Well.... this kinda sucks…

On purpose, I have chosen not to have a purpose during these 4 weeks of solitude time; no job, no school project, no life project or anything. Just me, and a big ol' empty house – as all our stuff is already packed and on its way to Vermont as I write this. So there’s a big empty house, cat snores and moi. And a whole lotta gaping time.

So far I have been quite productive and am happy to report that in the movie-watching-department, I am now all caught up.

My to-do checklist so far looks like this:

Movie watching – √

Sleeping– √

Meditating/Having profound insights – Ø

Finding meaning in life – Ø

Sitting on couch – √

My only saving grace is that I haven’t done any online shopping yet.. but I’m sure that is in my near-term future.

I listened to a Deepak Chopra audiobook this morning thinking surely he’d have some good advice on what I could do to feel better about this lonely situation. His tip was: spend time alone in silence. Ok, well I suppose that means he is in fact telling me to turn him off, because if you are listening to an audiobook you are not spending time in silence – so I did.

I hung out in silence for about 10 minutes, trying hard to contemplate my life and let my thoughts flow and be all zen and stuff… then I decided this is crap, I’m already as alone as I could possibly be, adding silence to the mix ain’t gonna make that big of a difference at this point, so I turned some music on. I can still contemplate life with music in the background, really I can. Ha!

Today was especially fun as my little shadow demons came to play, one by one they popped out infront of me with their cheeky grins. "Oh hello there Abandonment-Issues, how’s the wife?", "And look there is Self-Criticism, Insecurity, and Rejection, long time no see!", "How are the kids, Shame?" Wow, makes me feel weak and gooey inside to even write this and admit to those little demons. And don’t you just love how they all show up in a pack? They never do travel alone… Safety in numbers, I suppose. The same should go for me, where are my numbers? Maybe that is why I don’t feel particularly safe at the moment.

It dawns on me that this is exactly what being alone is about – setting aside the distractions (such as another person, a job, things to “do”) so that there is nothing stopping you from saying 'hello' to your little demons.

Afterall, isn't it a rule that if you don’t acknowledge them they just go away quietly and you can pretend they aren’t here to visit you, they are here to visit a totally different person? That only works if you aren't the only one home.. But alas, that is not the case for me right now!

Being alone allows for space to be created to truly be with yourself. Space for those little shadowy guys to show up and ask me to dance with them. I realize that being alone provides me with the space to actually say ‘yes’ to them, no more excuses or distractions. Time to brush up on my foxtrot, or is it two-step? What dance to demons prefer anyway?!

Probably more of a heavy metal headbanging situation.

Read the next chapter to find out how the demon-dance turned out…

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