On Silence


It’s 6 o’clock in the morning and though the house is still and dark, I am awake. It is the way it is these days. As much as I want to hibernate like a bear storing up my unconscious hours like an extra padding of fat for the coming months ahead when a little one will be waking me up every few hours, I can’t. I treasure my sleep. I adore my sleep. I could sing odes, sonnets, and serenade sleep– and yet it is the very thing that eludes me these days.

Still, in some ways, the silence in this early hour, though entirely unwanted, is beautiful in its own way. I felt reminded of this yesterday at my now-weekly checkups at the doctor’s office when they strapped me to a heart monitor and left me to my own devices for twenty minutes. Or rather, they left me without my own devices as my Kindle and brand new iPhone were tucked away in a purse just beyond my reach. I lay in the quiet, fluorescent room with nothing to do but lie back and feel my son do the samba inside me.

I am so much busier now. I can’t say I’m solving world peace, or racing to important business meetings, but somehow my days fill up like a balloon about to burst. As I lay in the doctor’s office with nothing to distract me I realized how rare it is to have such absolute silence in my life. I lay back and soaked it in. I focused on my son flinging his arms and hands and wiggling his butt.

Sure, I’ve felt this all before, but even during my downtime, there is usually a TV on, a computer humming, or a book in my lap. Even when I am taking a break, there is no true and complete silence like in the doctor’s examination room where I heard just pin-drop silence and the pulsing heart of the child within. I had nothing to do except be fully focused on him. While I feel him move every day, in those twenty minutes I felt his physical presence with a different intensity; it hit me as though for the first time that I’m not just whale-like and lumbering for no reason– I’m about to be a little samba-dancer’s mother. Every human being alive has a mother. I will be his.

I just finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed, her memoir of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail after her mother’s death. She writes about silence and how it transforms and how it heals. How on a trail hiking thousands of miles in hundreds of days you can put aside all the daily distractions and focus simply on one foot falling in line behind the other. How you can watch a bird perched on a cliff and not think with your analytical mind, but simply be in the complete silence of the outdoors. How this is something we as humans are supposed to experience, and how this is something as humans in today’s world we seldom do.

I’ve read so many stories and heard so many anecdotes of the healing and meditative power of stepping into silence and simply taking one foot in front of the other and walking. Not on a treadmill, not with iPod wires dangling from one’s ears or a friend to chat with and whittle away the monotony but to actually embrace the monotony, the silence, and feel it as a tangible thing. I believe in this and yet I fear silence, I fill my days with devices, reading, chatting or otherwise eluding silence but in that doctor’s office I realized its power and how healing and meditative it can be.

My days of silence [and sleep] of any variety will soon be rare but as I lay in the doctor’s office, as I read Strayed’s book, and as I sit here now at this early morning hour, I am amazed how little silence I experience, how important it is to harness it, and a hope that despite soon becoming a mother to two, I will find small patches of silent moments because they truly matter.

How can you delve into the deepest part of who you are if you never allow a moment to let yourself sink in?

Ed Note: Congratulations, Aisha, on the birth of your second son! Wishing you nights filled with sweet sleep & days of deep joy!

Aisha Saeed is a contributor to Love, InshAllah. She was born and raised in South Florida and is a teacher, attorney, and writer. She recently completed her first two novels. In her free time, Aisha enjoys traveling, reading, and blogging. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and sons.

This piece was originally posted on the blog Aisha Iqbal.

One Comment on “On Silence”

  1. Humza says:

    This is a great insightful post. I’ve read about and try to experience this silence on a daily basis. Lately it comes in the form of trying to experience it on the way to work without the experience of trying to listen to something else.