There I was. Standing in the breezy hallway, sunlight bouncing, calling us towards each other.
There THEY were. So accomplished, so capable.
What could I have to say?
Do I even have anything to contribute?
What if I'm not witty enough?
What if, I was (*insert dun, dun, dunnnnnnn* i.e. scary moment in a movie music)…
Would the world turn to stare at me?
If I couldn’t think of the right phrase, spoken with just-right pitch and precise tone, would the floor open and swallow me whole?
What if I’m too quiet and I make a horrible impression?
But it was time. I stood there, insides doing backflips, trying to stay in the present moment.
Breathe deep. We start connecting.
Then, lo and behold:
A moment of silence.
The entire room froze. Jaws dropped. Slowly, in unison, everyone turned. Arms began lifting. Pointing. At me. There she is, The Silent One. An agonizing chant. I turned, stumbled, ran screaming out of the room with my limbs flailing, the word SHAME slowly appearing in ink on my back…
OK. So, here’s what really happened:
After a brief lull, we kept going, enjoyed meeting each other, and left the introduction able to appreciate our brief moment of connection.
The silence didn’t hurt us at all.
It gave us a chance to be human together.
To breathe. To think. To be still.
That moment of quiet gave us the opportunity to reset and begin again.
Maybe silence doesn’t have teeth.
Perhaps pausing in the middle of a conversation isn’t failure.
Quiet leaves room for the performance to fall away and connection to grow.
Quiet carves out space for us to learn how to be with each other in the tenderness of our humanity.
Silence can be awkward, but it can also be like drinking a cool glass of water:
Just what we need to get refreshed and move towards building a genuine connection.