Silence that speaks
One of benefits of studying in Southampton is that it has the advantage of being a coastal city with an international port. It also has other coastal cities like Bournemouth and Portsmouth close by, which in a way offer different kinds of waterfronts. Those interested in sandy beaches would find Bournemouth more appealing.
However, a very attractive location close to Southampton and still within the County of Hampshire is the Isle of Wight. When the pressures of the university become so muchthat I need a break, I find this island a good location for a getaway. The serenity and beauty of the countryside there is quite helpful for such moments.
During the Easter holidays, myself and some friends from CathSoc were invited to spend the Easter weekend on the Island. It was to be a silent retreat (whatever that meant)! Now, we had just finished the second term of the academic year with all the lectures, course works and laboratory exercises involved. These activities involved interactions, gestures and all sorts of communication methods but here we were being invited to spend a weekend in ‘silence’!
Looking back now over the experience of that silent weekend, I marvel at how challenging it was to adjust into that silent mode albeit for just three days. It really made me appreciate how ‘busy’ I get with university life and daily living that I at times find it hard to even pause a while and reflect. It also reminded me of the Routes to Success module I had taken last year which tried to help us imbibe the attitude of reflecting on our goals, studies, course works, among others.
Since we were not allowed to speak with each other (quite challenging for a noisy one like me), I had to find solace in reflecting on so many things. Fortunately, the centre where we stayed was in the countryside and so presented us with wonderful views of grazing fields, farms, domestic animals and a beautiful landscape among others. The amount of ‘greens’ was quite impressive. It strangely brought back memories of my rural community back home!
So it was that even in the silence (or rather because of it), I was able to take in the beauty of nature in all its splendour. It was as though I was conversing with nature as I noticed things I would not ordinarily take note of like the singing of the birds, mooing of the cattle, bleating of sheep, running of horses and the drinking of some bird that looked like a swan just to mention a few It really felt like back home though in a different way. Almost every sound was noted. It seemed as though the silence was a fountain of knowledge from which I was trying to drink.
In all, this weekend of silence ended up being one of immense and rewarding reflection and though I returned to continue life at ECS with all the deadlines still waiting (unfortunately) it was indeed a good period of rest, introspection and repositioning for the last lap of this academic year. Indeed, the silence spoke!