Embracing the Silence in the Rest
Rarely do I hear quotes that I can’t get out of my head, but the one below still lingers:
“The beauty of music happens in the silence, and if you want people to really listen, then you have to play softer.” -Sean Palmer
Many of my musician friends out there will understand the literalness of the speaker’s statement. They know how difficult it is to slow down or become silent, even if for a measure. As I was taking in the words above, I was struck by how hard it is to rest or become silent when inundated by all the negative and critical talk that goes on in the world, and how easily people jump on the social media train to let the world know that something has ruffled their feathers.
As much as I have a positive outlook, the truth is criticism creeps in at every turn. Heck, the current world remains full of extremely critical groups and individuals who can be vocal about anything within seconds due to the easy access to social media via tech devices. Something pisses someone off and doesn’t go along with his or her point of view, then that person can counter punch it by shouting feelings from a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Personally, I catch myself picking up my phone addictively every time I experience bad customer service, hear misinformation or when I just am plain pissed off. Most of the time I really don’t intend to post anything, but what an egomaniacal trip to know that I can blast my sarcastic thoughts to the world at any given moment.
Recently, my wife, Leah, and I went to see a movie at a theater here in Franklin, TN. We hadn’t been to the movies in a while and were amazed at how packed the venue was. I waited in line for 30 minutes for our ridiculously overpriced popcorn and Coke. Get this, they didn’t even carry Junior Mints. WHAT? As I was in line I started to get out my phone to hit the Twitter feed, and shoot off a snarky comment. For some reason something told me not to. I could tell the woman in the line to the right of me was also getting annoyed. I mean there were ten lines ten deep to the front of the food counter. So, instead of succumbing to the ease of 114 characters, I started chatting with folks around me. I was amazed at how quickly time went by as I was having casual conversation with the other annoyed patrons. We were now all in this together. After the movie, I did ask one of the young ticket takers why the other two side concessions were not open for such a large weekend crowd. “Couldn’t get people to work,” he said. I also filled out a feedback form on the cinema’s website letting staff know that is was very frustrating having to wait in line so long, therefore missing part of the movie. I’m currently waiting on a response and hope they sense my pain and give me free movies for a year with unlimited Junior Mint.
The next morning, I was checking in with my peeps on Facebook, as my wife says, and ran across a post about a negative Yelp review gone viral. You can read it for yourself here: http://bit.ly/10JU0A8. The complainer really gave it to the restaurant, but I bet anything that the complaint was done very quickly after the encounter with the so-called bad service. As you can gather from the post, the restaurant fired back and did a thorough job of upstaging the negative rant with a straightforward well thought out rebuttal. I have to imagine that the restaurant didn’t fire back the second it saw the angry post.
I have made my share of “shoot from the hip, I’ll show you” mistakes early in my career with the main conduit being email. Ok, I’m getting old; this was before Facebook or Twitter. I think MySpace was in play though. Long story short, a client was unhappy, and I knew it. Admittedly, both sides were at fault, and a deadline was not going to be met. Man was it a lot easier to pull up Outlook and start typing away. In a matter of minutes I had what I thought was a brilliantly crafted email stating all the facts as to why the client had dropped the ball. Needless to say an ensuing amount of emails went back and forth on both sides and, as you can imagine, no problem was solved. My study of how to deal with crucial conversations started shortly afterward.
As I was researching music theory and the importance of silence or the rest in music, I ran across this statement from a blog by Danrathjr.com, a music theory and composition site:
“In music composition, the notes or pitches provide the tools we need to create a melody and to harmonize with that melody. Rests allow us the ability to add depth and additional emotions to music through the use of silence. The musical rests also help to support other tools when creating tension, relieving tension, creating suspension and suspense and they give us time to catch our breath.
Now I don’t know Don Roth Jr., but after reading this I was struck by how the statement refers to what the rest in music can do. It can add depth and relieve tension. It also points out that it can create tension.
Sometimes being critical has its purpose, but slowing down and taking in the silence before those fingers go frantically typing will help add depth and character. Let’s not take the silence in the rest for granted. It is where the magic happens and where we use the quiet corners of our souls to ease the critical nature we have for all the things we don’t understand or agree with.