Amplitude ≠ Productivity

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?

Category(s): Musings

2 Responses to Amplitude ≠ Productivity

  1. I never realized when I was younger that one of the reasons conversations were so awkward for me was that they were mostly based on small talk. I could never pick up on small talk, or any other contrived aspect of interaction. I’m much more natural at it now, rather, I’m much better at transitioning from small talk into real talk in a way that I find comfortable but others are still probably frightened by.

      mhennessey says:

      I hear you. It seems as if, at some point, it was decided that a break in conversation meant that something had to be wrong. Suddenly anyone who has trouble carrying a conversation is deemed awkward and boring. Either quality may be true, but it is not a foregone conclusion.