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So, it’s about that time that I officially give the vow a break. For now.

I’ve learnt a lot. However, I’ve also been in a place where it wasn’t really feasible for me. I’m currently doing a Certificate in Journalism, and speaker coaching an event, and those positions don’t work well for a man without a voice.

I’ve gone a good 4 days, but slipped up from time to time in some very small but frustrating ways. I’ve also not given a lot of rigid thought into the Vow of Silence - whether I would be allowed to move my mouth or write or type or text?

In a couple of months, after processing what I’ve learnt in the past few days, I would definitely do it again. Maybe in the form of a retreat or a fast of sorts, where my self-control really gets put to the test and I come to terms with what I’m doing.

I am going to take what I’ve found with me, however. I am going to definitely speak less, and say only what people need to hear from me. I only intend to speak with purpose and intent, and to let people hear what’s truly on my mind and in my heart. I’m going to pay more attention and receive the thoughts and emotions of others.

My tongue is my superpower, and I’m not going to use it for evil or just use it randomly. And I’ll definitely better empower my ears to do their job, and learn to communicate with the silence.

But until then, The Voice is back!

A friend of mine looked at me intently in class this afternoon, full of thought. When I passed her a note asking what was wrong, she said she was simply thinking about what kind of silence I was practicing. I thought she meant limitations. I could still write and type, I wrote to her. She said that wasn’t what she meant.

One of her family members was practicing a silence of her own. And to my friend, it felt sad, mournful almost. She asked what was mine again. I wrote ‘Reflective. I hope so.’

So, let me take the time to reflect.

Yesterday I reblogged a photo that said 'Silence is the most powerful scream'. And that was, in a lot of ways, why I shut my mouth here. It was me screaming at myself for never really saying what it was on my mind and in my heart. I was angry at myself for being so silly and proud and selfish and self-damaging. So I was punishing myself for not speaking, by not speaking (yeah, when you say it that way it’s bound to sound stupid, right?). I’m also trying to stop the incessant screaming I make, and listen to what other people are trying to say over my noise of emotions.

But I was also screaming at those people too. I felt as though they were never listening to me, and there was a hint of resentment in me for everyone that I felt wasn’t getting the message that I was trying to send. I wanted to bring as much attention to what I wasn’t saying as I could, so that when I finally come out of my shell and say it I could know that someone heard it. I needed to know that someone was going to hear it, because that was exactly why I never said it before.

I did have a kind of silence. I still do. It’s all kind of things, really. It’s angry. The silence is angry at me, because I filled him with insecurity and weakness and all the things that kill substance and meaning. The silence was being lied about, and he wanted revenge. He wanted my voice, and he took it. He was greedy, too. He wanted to grab the ears of those who started the cycle with me and him, so that he could be at peace and leave me and my weakness. He wants rid of me, but only after the dues are paid.

The silence was also sad. It understands the quest for meaning just as much as the words that frolic around it. In fact, it is the thing that sometimes helps show those young wild words their place. It was disappointed in me for not finding the meaning of those words, and of him. But he’s also sympathetic to the idea that people throw those words out in a quest to find meaning, for them and for the people that say them. The silence understands me plight, and feels sorry for me. He thinks that the tough love might help me grow and get over myself, and be the most powerful person I am capable of being, with or without my tongue.

He and I are trying to find peace, with each other. And I would still have to find peace with myself, and the words that I hear or don’t hear, and with the words I can say or cannot. In four days, the silence will leave me, only to enter our mutual space if I invite him in as a partner. Until then, he has to teach me the error of my ways, even in the way I have used, spited and angered him.

My friend also said that something was missing from me being silent. She couldn’t tell me what it was, but she knew that I ‘wasn’t seeing something’. I still don’t know what it was. I always thought that me being silent could only affect my mouth and my ears. And then I thought about it…I listen to things that cannot speak as well. I listened to the grass rustling on Sunday. I was listening to the glances of men toward one of my friends when we were walking in Port of Spain. I was listening to the weird preferences and only bearable arrogance of one of my friends that wanted to torment me for my vow of silence. I was listening to my laptop instead of the lecturer in class this afternoon. Am I not seeing something as well? Like the way my friends come to me even when they aren’t equipped with words like I am? The way they converse to each other about me and my betterment? Am I missing the love and sadness and maybe even pity surrounding me from the people in my life?

Can’t really do a vow of blindness, but time alone can tell what the universe has left to teach me.

I’m listening now.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times…

Went all the way to Port-of-Spain for a 10AM meeting without saying a single word, all the while with my brother and two friends, and even meeting another friend along the way. I was actually feeling like I was getting the hang of it…

And then my mother comes home and greets me, and I accidentally tell her good afternoon in return…

But I’m still going to finish the week. It’s a lesson in mindfulness and self-control, and one I’m always eager to learn whenever I can. It’s also about  actually going through this and learning what the words really mean…

"The condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak."

Cornel West

Part of the reason I’ve never said what’s been in my heart or in my head is because it hurts. I never admitted how I felt when my grandmother passed away, or when my mother seemed to attack me for it. I never said what was in my heart when my exes broke up with me, or when people spoke ill of me and said that my intentions were nothing but bad. I thought that if I said it, it would become more real. It would manifest even stronger and scarier. I couldn’t deal with the idea that I would have to confront it now, and go through the suffering involved in it. If it wasn’t real on my lips, it couldn’t be real. It wasn’t released into the atmosphere. It was trapped in my rib cage, suffocating and dying.

But it wasn’t. It was simply being quiet, but growing larger with every unspoken word. Suffering cannot be suffocated. Only felt. And after it is felt, it can be clung to or released, left to fester or made to heal. I was clinging to my suffering. Every time I felt hurt or slighted, abandoned or ignored, I didn’t say a word, so that people didn’t feel like I was making them to suffer. But I was suffering more and more.

I heard the Cornel West quote above in a Spoken Word class on Sunday that opened my eyes to maybe the real reason why I took this vow of silence to begin with. It had a lot to do with me listening to myself. I’ve been stacking on the suffering, but never venting. I’ve never let these emotional infections be cleaned, and the pressure has been building and the infection spreading. If I don’t air it out soon, I’ll implode.

So you might be asking, why take away your ability to vent? Doesn’t that mean that you’re bound to implode? And the answer is yes. I am bound to implode. That’s the entire plan.

I want to starve myself of a chance to deal with this the way I should be. I’ve been starving myself of it for so long in my life that I apparently had no idea how important it was that I do it. So now, I’m going to punish myself for not taking better care of myself and my emotions. I’m going to get to the breaking point, and finally come tumbling down. Every single emotion that I’ve been keeping locked up inside to fester and sicken me must come out. If it means I get depressed and cry my eyes out and scream till my lungs give out, that’s completely okay. It’s better than telling myself that it’s not necessary to do this and finally heal. Because it is.

Almost as important as listening, one of the reasons for this vow of silence was to learn to finally speak and speak the truth. There are so many people and things that have upset me, hurt me, or tried to damage me. There are so many thoughts and emotions and dreams and fears that I’ve locked up because I was concerned that it would put me in danger or leave me prone to be taken advantage of. There are some things I haven’t said so that I didn’t feel like I was taking advantage of others, and all I did was let people take advantage of my feelings and the security that I’d be there in the end. If I’m not saying how I truly feel, letting the people that love and love me back when I’m suffering, am I not a liar? I’m not telling them the truth. And I’m not allowing them to tell me the truth. They need to tell me if they can handle the honest-to-goodness me, and if they want to try, and if they’ll be here and support me when sometimes I’m not as strong as I used to be.

I’m not in the business of lying. And I’m definitely leaving the business of hurt. They’re both jobs that no one should have to do, and I shouldn’t be choosing them willingly when all they do is put my heart under strain.

So now I learn that I need to discover my truth, and speak it unconditionally. And it may mean that I have to suffer unconditionally in order to speak it all. But I’ve been doing a lot of suffering, and even small cuts are joining large scars.

The suffering will speak.

So, no contact with the outside world today on account of illness. It’ll pass by tomorrow, I hope. Today, though, I’m just stewing in my emotions, washing some clothes and watching some Sherlock.

I’m realizing how often I could trail off into speech when I’m home alone, how natural it is for me to open my mouth and almost say a word. Something weird comes up on my tumblr dashboard, and ‘what the hell?’ rushes to my mouth. Some interesting music plays and my mouth moves to form the lyrics almost instinctively. I wonder if everyone’s tongue is as automatic as mine, and as taken for granted… It’s already bad enough that my body is screaming to say certain things right now. I could break my vow completely by accident, by simply listening to some good music or watching something outrageous on television.

Well, at least I’ve managed to stay on track today (although no one’s here to prove it), and can take this time to be more mindful of the words I say accidentally. I want to be purposeful and deliberate in all of my doings, including speech now. Just like I put a great deal of control into the things that I do, how I do them and why, I want my speech to be virtuous as well. I think too many people miss the virtue behind the things that they do every day. Things like buying clothes and eating food are expansions of the life that we live, the person that we are and want to present to the world, and the person we want to be in the future. If people did those things with a greater mindfulness of who they want to be and what that all means - not necessarily with pin-point accuracy, but a desire to become better, more Compassionate and Peaceful - then people would stop having so many problems with others, or even themselves. But I ramble.

Back to washing clothes…

So I’ve come to the conclusion that people really aren’t listening to a word I’m saying about them…

My brother doesn’t hear that I think that he’s an awesome young man with a lot of potential that he’s spoiling with very poor and selfish decisions that he doesn’t want to evaluate. He hears me telling him he’s a fuck-up with no life that’s taking advantage of people.

My friends don’t hear that I’m concerned about their lives and just want them to do something that takes them to a great place for themselves. They hear that I’m trying to tell them how to live their lives, and if I can’t do that I’ll just walk out.

Then there are some people that don’t hear that sometimes I have emotional needs. And that I don’t just want someone who likes my arms and thinks I make good conversation. I don’t want someone who’s unconcerned about me. That’s not love, and it’s not even lust. It’s being unconcerned. It’s me being no more than an object that does a task and isn’t needed when the task’s over. And people aren’t hearing that I don’t just want to be an object that passes through someone’s life. Just like I try my utmost to be someone that someone can emotionally rely on, I want someone like that for me as well.

And then I’m not listening either maybe. Because all I’m hearing is that I can’t get that, and I don’t deserve it, every single time. No one seems to hear me say it, and never get to respond to it. I get to be there for other people, but never get someone who wants to be there for the whole me, when I’m broken down and weak and can hardly trust myself to tell the truth of how I feel, but am willing to confide in this one person who wants to be there for this complete, complex person.

Or maybe I’m just asking too much. Of the entire world. So now’s a good time to shut up, right?

…Oh, so I just noticed that I write more (and write more rants) when I can’t speak. I felt as though every single word that was trapped in my mouth in frustration last night are bursting out of my skin. I’m always so boisterous, so full of words. And last night, I didn’t have them when I got put in a corner. Even that is a barrier to communication - not being able to freely speak gives other’s words all new meanings. It felt last night like I got a call just to be told something that I’d have to learn to accept instead of talk about and inform. And as soon as I thought that, I felt cornered. I could’ve said something simply, but the person knew that I couldn’t. The person wouldn’t let me, maybe? Even if that wasn’t the conscious intention, I couldn’t help but feel like like my opinion lost meaning. Like it wasn’t meant to be heard…

The breaking point will come soon…and now, I’m kinda scared of it. But I suppose it’s a lot more necessary. I’d never be so broken in my life, and if people can’t handle me at that bad, then I can’t be handled, can I?

Ended up in an awkward situation today, when I headed over to a friend’s house to get a lift somewhere from him, all still without the ability to speak. When I got there, he was in Port of Spain, a half-hour away, and I had no way of explaining this simply to his parents.

It was here that I realized that my newfound loss of sense had me resorting to avoiding contact with human beings. This is something almost completely alien to me, who’s always the self-made center of attention. But I couldn’t even call out to my friend’s parents to tell them to open the door.

So I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood for a while, and ended up by a river of sorts…

It was black, clogged with the waste, and barely flowing. But, for some reason, it meant something very good for me to stumble on this place today. I’d visited my friend before, and knew that this patch of grass was here, but never ventured towards it. I would’ve never known it was there if my mouth wasn’t shut, interestingly. I would’ve never seen this dirty dying river, or get a chance to witness the life that was still there in small amounts.

There were birds still flying through the thick bamboo, and the gentle falling of leaves. The rustling of the trees sounded like soft rain. There was hope somewhere in this dying place, much like there was for me.

So I did what my melodramatic state told me to do - I sat there and meditated.

Now, I’m not at all used to meditating in open spaces. I had some valuables in my bag, and I was still in an open space. But I didn’t really care. I wanted to listen to this place speak, and say what I would’ve never gotten a chance to hear if I wasn’t closing my mouth like I am now.

I imagined my chakras growing roots out of me, connecting with the place I was in, that every breath in was me taking the dirt from this place and taking it into me to heal the place. I imagined my every breath out as me casting that negative energy out of me, and further placing positive energy into the earth. I listened to the sound of the wind playing on the bamboo leaves, and the birds coming and going.

When I opened my eyes, the sun got brighter. When I got up to walk, the sound of dogs barking was cheerful to me.

This day was scarily enlightening to me. This is just the beginning of what I’ve heard for the day. It’s been so much that I got a headache. And I want to hear so much more.

The body craves expression. It may be the reason we speak so much, but listen so little. We crave intensely to be ‘heard’ at all costs.

It even reaches the point that if our body cannot speak, it itches to move.

I sat down in a friend’s car today, getting a lift to a university for a spoken Word class. On the way there, he started blasting music at a ridiculous volume, so much I felt my heartbeat manhandled by bass.

I never felt to dance so badly in my entire life. My. Entire. Life.

I felt as though the person that had stayed so silent all day wanted to be noticed, in a way that people might be able to understand and respond to. In a way that would garner response, and deserve it, and could not be ignored.

So I suppose one of today’s lessons is I need to learn to dance or something…

And so far, I’ve

  • gotten a headache
  • gotten teased a lot by some friend of mine
  • lost an opportunity to perform
  • been called both a genius and saintly
  • heard so many things that spoke specifically to how I’ve been feeling

…on my very first day…

Tomorrow’s gonna be treacherous…lol

And so it begins…

Just had my first ‘silent conversation’ today, with a man who came over to use my laptop. It was a guy that I met at the Open Data Conference I went to earlier this month, who came over to send himself an email from my computer. He asked me if I was getting internet access, and I nodded. He asked if he could send an email, and I nodded again. And then he asked if I went to the entire Open Data Conference, to which I shook my head and showed him one finger. I only went to the first day of the conference. He nodded quizzically, but seemed to understand.

Then he asks ‘What wrong wit yuh mouth? Yuh went to the dentist or what?”

I wrote him my reply; “Taking a Vow of Silence.”

He reads the page slowly, then looks up at me. “Sorry boss…” I shrug and shake my head at him in an attempt to let him know there’s nothing to be sorry for. He finishes up with my laptop silently, only speaking to me again to see if he properly signed out of my computer.

This is looking to be fun already.

I think people take for granted how many words they say on a daily basis; I tell my grandfather when I’m leaving the house, and walk past people’s houses saying good morning along the way. Once in a while, someone you know sees you as you pass and initiates small talk. All this I started to dread this morning as I tried to ease myself into my 11AM muteness. I’m naturally a talker. This morning, as I was walking aimlessly around my house, I had to fight the urge to talk to myself! My girlfriend just called, and I automatically answered the phone but couldn’t say a word. So what’s would happen when my friends see me tomorrow? What would happen in class? Would people understand, or would it be a strange and novel thing that people would challenge or try to undermine?

The next few days are gonna be insane.