This is an essay that briefly goes through my views on the power of silence, the nature of God, and the virtue of selfishness.
The format is inspired by the essay Intentions by Oscar Wilde, which was set as a dialogue. After reading it, I realized that not all ideas are necessarily best expressed as an article or essay. So here I’m experimenting with outlining my beliefs on silence, God, and selfishness as a letter between two young lovers.
To the One I Love
I expect this to shock you. No, not just shock you. I know it will downright embarrass you. I relish a little in that fact as I say: I love you. I do. And out of smugness I’m not going to qualify that statement or explain what I mean. I’m just going to let it stand for itself and let you stew in the discomfort. I love you.
Silence is powerful. Some say that God speaks in the silence. It makes sense, doesn’t it? In a world so full of perpetual goings-on and drudgery and noise, it makes sense that this hustle and bustle was brought about and is continually fed by an irreverence toward silence.
No, I don’t quite believe that. Not fully, anyway. But I do believe that silence is necessary. It’s necessary for getting in touch with your core, your essence, your humanity.
What is your essence?
Who are you really? What, above all, do you want in this world? What makes you come alive?
The answers to these questions may or may not come. But with certainty I can say that they will only come after a bout of silence. And these questions aside, I still encourage you, my dear friend, to flirt with the silence. The same way you might flirt with a pretty girl or a call to the expected danger of well-lived life, flirt with the silence. Let it be. Listen. Relax.
A lot of times we fill an otherwise refreshing moment of silence with meaningless words because we feel awkward.
But why do we feel awkward? What makes silence awkward? Do I need to say something more than I mean, be something more than I am in order to win your affections? Am I trying to trap your attention? Is that what I need to resort to? Is it something I should allow myself to do out of habit?
I am enough. You are enough. We are enough.
There is nothing to lose from letting a breeze of silence run its course, but so much to gain. In the silence, you have a chance to feel what you feel. In the silence, you have a chance to accept what you feel. In the silence, you have a chance to be honest with yourself.
You answer only to yourself in the silence. It’s a time to embrace your essence and your humanity. It’s a time to reconnect with the true you.
Should we fear silence? Hate it? Feel awkward in it?
Honesty is scary. Reality can be daunting. But in the same way that denying the blueness of the sky will never change the fact that the sky is blue, denying the bleakness of the reality that you are living will never change the bleakness that you are experiencing. If you are unhappy, simply denying or ignoring that fact won’t change it. If you are scared… If you are hopeful…
I love you. That’s what I learned from embracing one of our shared moments of silence.
And I say that without expectation, without hope, and without any need or even desire for reciprocation. (No desire for reciprocation – can you imagine? I mean it. What an odd feeling.)
But don’t mistake my love for you as being altruistic. First of all, because it’s distinctly selfish and second of all, because I believe altruism is immoral. I’d be offended if you ever described anything I do or say as altruistic.
You’ve asked me before to explain what I mean by this. This philosophy. “Selfishness as a virtue”. And as much as I do love talking, I recognize that my pen is far more elegant than my voice. So now is the time for a proper explanation, it seems.
Most people I’ve met see God as an external being, someone or something that you look out towards. A few people I’ve met see God as an internal being, someone or something you find when you look inwards. I belong to the second camp. I feel something truly divine yet uniquely human when I sit with silence. I sit. I’m still. I listen. And I just exist. I am.
And this feeling that I connect with, the thoughts I have, the self-honesty I’m able to embrace when I sit with the silence – I see that as what many people would call “God”. But I call it “the Self”.
We all have a Self. I’m certain that your Self is different from mine, but you still have one. Even if you’ve always denied it, even if you choose to deny it, you have a Self. And if you embrace the fears and hopes and honesty you have deep down, that makes you selfish. Because your Self looks out only for your best interests.
To be altruistic is to live your life according to someone else’s Self. Altruism puts one person’s Self above everyone else’s Selves.
I don’t want you to say what you think I want to hear. I would rather you be unconventional, rude, callous, emotional, unreasonable, irresponsible, unthinking, or boorish if that’s the word that would describe the behavior you truly want to exhibit. I would rather you make a thousand mistakes so carelessly that you only recognize half of them than tread so lightly that you never come close to committing even one. I want you to be you.
Hah! I’ve said that I don’t want anything from you. But as I’m writing now, I realize that that’s not entirely true. I want you. You. All of you. The real you. I want you to embrace your Self. I want you to be honest with yourself.
As we’ve acknowledged before in other words, the greatest crime anyone can commit is making someone feel bad about who they truly are – making someone feel ashamed of their Self. I think an equally heinous crime is being dishonest with oneself – denying one’s Self.
So please, my dear, don’t deny your Self. For your sake don’t deny it. Be who you are. Be who you’re meant to be. Even if that man is callous, even if he’s an asshole, even if he’s unlikable. Embrace your Self. Be yourself.