I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I probably like silence more than the average person. I don't know why exactly, but something about it is relaxing. I even like it when I'm around somebody else. It's not that I dislike conversation, but all conversations eventually come to a pause and people often seem quick to want to fill the silence.

A few weeks ago, I read a book called A Window Across the River by Brian Morton. In the first couple of chapters, a woman named Nora contemplates whether or not she should call her former boyfriend, Isaac, at 3:00 am—like she always used to when they were together. Five years have passed and she's not sure if he's married or not, but she feels like her life is off-track and she just wants to hear his voice again, so she decides to call him. Here's what happened:


After three rings, he picked up the phone. She could tell from his thick hello that he'd been sleeping.

She didn't say anything. Maybe this was all she'd wanted. To hear his voice was enough.

She didn't hang up, though.

"Hello?" he said again.

She just kept breathing.

"Nora?" he said.

After five years.

"How did you know it was me?"

She heard him laughing softly. "I recognized your silence. It's different from anyone else's."


Doesn't that last line just take your breath away? To be so close to somebody to recognize her silence almost sounds ridiculous. But it also sounds quite appealing, doesn't it? Nora and Isaac had obviously spent a lot of time with each other in silence. In fact, just a couple of pages later, we find out that they used to fall asleep with each other on the phone on a regular basis and Nora considered it to be "one of the most intimate things she knew."

In a culture that screams for our attention at every turn—from internet pop-up and banner ads, to television and radio commercials, to cell phones with built in instant messaging—we seem to be afraid of silence or at the very least, we want to avoid it. But I think we are missing an opportunity to grow closer to people by simply remaining silent sometimes.


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