“silence is the language of god,
all else is poor translation.” – Rumi
Anyone who knows me and most people who have ever met me if asked would probably not describe me as a particularly calm or quiet person. I have always gravitated to the music jam, to the circle of laughing friends, to the dance parties; I have been told I can usually be heard before being seen. If anything silence has often been a burden in the past—a forced state of nothing-ness in which, in my religious moments, I felt pressured to hear a whisper within, or in my stressed out moments, I had to fight all my inner voices within. This is not categorically true, of course, but to a large extent if I have not outright turned my nose down at silence I have at the very least overlooked it as an important part of life.
I have now been living in Medellin for a solid 14 months. Fourteen months during which I have learned to love many people and many aspects of this city. But I have not and cannot love the constancy of the noise here, nor the cultural bend towards filling whatever might be silent space into a night-club-esque atmosphere. You will say “Cities are always loud!”, I know. And I must reply “Not like this.” In most cities there are parks, cafes, your own home, places where one can expect a reduced decibel level. Not so here.
In the streets there is blaring salsa music, in public buses there is blaring salsa music, during worship on Sunday there is computing blaring regaton music outside, in restaurants TVs usually scream their terrible news, the day I went to the only really green space within the city (a small hilltop called “El Volador”) my tiny sanctum of silence was almost immediately invaded by a group of young guys with a portable radio playing (you got it) blaring music. I think probably the very worst is arriving at my house, be it at 4pm or 10pm, and there being blaring music (sometimes worship music, sometimes salsa, regaton) and despite closing all that can be closed there is still so much open that, given how much louder Colombian parties require music, from my perspective I might as well be in the living room of the house party. And this continues all night, usually until about 4am.
It’s truly enraging. I mean…I literally feel capable of violence a lot of times. I have come to love libraries, the running track and the pool as spaces where, although not silent (traffic will always be heard, people are still around, someone will always be on a phone call) they are at the very least less loud than most other spaces. And yet still, more and more I feel my soul thirsty for true, honest to goodness, SILENCE.
And so I repent. I repent of all the times I was the one to make the library louder than it had to be, I repent for all times my extravertedness has impeded an introvert from finding the quiet they needed. And I am grateful. I am grateful that I can now value something so fundamental, so simple, so precious, something I have no oftentimes given thanks for. And I hope and I thirst for spaces of silence to bless my life once more.