Last night I played out for the first time in a long time. Longer than I care to admit, to be honest. Just me and my ukulele at an open mic.
But damn, it was fun.
I could only remember how to play a song and a half, so I quickly ran through them before heading out. (I had only been home from the day job for about fifteen minutes.) One beer later I finally got up the nerve to actually sign my name on the list — I’ve performed in groups many times, but the idea of a solo performance still messes with my nerves in a way I can’t quite describe. But once I got on stage and started playing, everything seemed to fall into place. The people liked what I was doing, and so did I. That’s important because I’ve had a latent tendency towards self-degradation for as long as I can remember. Perhaps I am finally overcoming that tendency.
But the point is that I had fun and, for about five minutes, felt sensations that reminded me why I got into music in the first place.
This brings us to today. Working the desk job again, I was making good progress on a project that I had been given, while thinking about what else I could do with just my voice and the uke. Ideas streamed through my head; what songs could work, what songs could I make work, how I could link things together to create an exciting performance.
Then there was a moment when another employee remarked that, “It’s so quiet… Y’all need to do something with yourselves.” (In fairness, there is usually some ambient chatter and such a break is rare, but heaven forbid there are people who appreciate silence in a world that won’t shut the fuck up.)
My initial reaction was to find something quasi-witty to say in return, but then I realized that the best response was to say nothing. After all, I was quite busy. I was earning my keep at the job, while planning ahead for what I actually enjoy doing in life. And now I had been left wondering why some people equate silence with nothingness, or worse. At the risk of sounding elitist, I prefer an over-active mind to an over-abundance of external stimuli. I don’t want to listen to, or engage in, the same meaningless small-talk I’ve been hearing for weeks. Let me think. Let me learn.
What is it about silence that makes (many) people uncomfortable?