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Dr. Hallowell's Blog

January Greetings and the Need for Silence from Dr. Hallowell

Greetings from a snowy day in January in Boston. Actually, from my office in Sudbury, just west of Boston.

As I look out my window I see the world globed in flurries, as in the child’s shake-toy, and I see the birches nude next to the evergreens, and I see the little tracks of the rabbits, chipmunks, and other hardy creatures that in winter roam the woods next to my heated outpost, and I hear the familiar silence that a gentle snow bestows upon our world.

How much we need that silence….  Of course, every day we have to get done what has to get done, and we must make noise as we do it, generating a kind of ambient racket the mental traffic jam that soon fills our minds once we hit work makes, full of the horns, sirens, screeches, and crashes that our brains emit, like side effects of working life, as we deal with what we have to deal with, day in and day out.

So how much we need that silence.  I am reading a book whose title is “Nothing: From Absolute Zero to Cosmic Oblivion–Amazing Insights into Nothingness,” with chapter titles like “Zero, Zip, Zilch,” and “Nothing in Common.”  It is all about how much there is to be found in nothing.

But, of course, our lives must focus on something.  Nothing comes of nothing, as Shakespeare said.  But he also said, “Much ado about nothing,” and it is out of nothing that we came and into nothing we shall go.

Or is it?  Perhaps we came from silence, and into silence we shall return.  Perhaps we came from a place we cannot see, cannot hear, and cannot find, but we can sense, in silence.  Perhaps there’s more to it than nothing, or maybe there’s more to nothing than we are led to believe.

My wish for you all, and for myself, is to find nothing, to find moments of silence now and then, and in those moments intimate what else actually might be there, with you, or there, far away from you.  Intimate what you and I will never be able to hear, see, or feel, or touch, but can approach, indirectly, inadvertently, accidentally, through the medium of nothing, of innocent, pure, and uninterrupted silence.

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