Yesterday, November 20th, I chose to participate in http://www.iamsilent.com/TakeTheVow/ put on by http://www.freethechildren.com/ along with one of my traveling partners. A few weeks back we had both been on a retreat that requested all of the participants to be silent from bedtime one night to 4pm the next day. So, I had some experience with this, but that happened on a farm with 30+ others participating in silence as well. Yesterday, for us was a travel day. We checked out of our hotel rooms in Buenos Aires at 11:30 am to head to the airport. We flew to Curibita, Brazil via a transfer in Porto Alegre and checked in to our new hotel rooms around 9pm. Thank goodness it was a travel day and not a show day.
Traveling in silence, especially in foreign countries was pretty easy. Although, communication was necessary, I was able to get by with head-nodding, facial expressions, and pointing. At the airline check-in desk, the agent asked me what my final destination was, and I quickly found the name to point to. To be honest, I would not have been able to pronounce the name of the city clearly, anyway. When going through security, the officers asked me about items in bag, so I just searched my bag and pulled out the items I thought they may be looking for. At customs, all I needed was direct eye contact, a serious look on my face, and coprehensive head nods, with a smile at the end. I do not think anyone of them noticed that I was purposely not speaking.
The rest of my traveling party slowly figured out that I had taken the vow, but that did not keep them from talking to me. Several kept striking up conversations with my silent self. At first, I thought maybe they forgot and that is why they were talking to me, but then I decided to take it as they just wanted to talk and they know that whether I am responding or not, I truly do listen to them.
I loved the silence. Which, may be surprising because I am quite a vocal person. In taking on the silence though, I felt like I was giving myself a break. I got to try on a different side of myself. I often answer and speak without much pre-meditation, which I do love about myself, but the vow showed me that although what I say is worthwhile, life moves along just fine without it. I did not take that negatively, just meaning that it is okay to breathe with something, to sit with something, to not feel the need to jump in and "help". I was able to acknowledge that I do add to the lives of others, even when I am not in direct response to them.
Honestly, the only thing that upset me during my 24 hours in silence, was that I could not respond to a friend's email reply to a message I had sent her. In reading her email, I made up that she had taken what I had written to her the wrong way. I wanted to FIX it so bad! And really there was nothing to fix, but I just really wanted to make sure that we were on the same page. I laughed at myself, and my urgency to fix the situation that was not even a situation. I knew and do know that if she is really the friend I want then she doesn't give a shit about an email I sent that she read differently then I wrote it. She loves me and holds space for me no matter what that email said and I feel the same to her! When the silence ended, I did respond to the email and included how badly I wanted to respond, she laughed at me and of course never even had the thoughts that I had made up she did.
So, life goes on with speech. I plan on using this vow of silence to remind myself to speak with clarity, intention, and pride. But, to also let go of the voice that feels it always needs to speak.