By Howie Ronsayro
We are taught in UP to let our voices be heard and to let every relevant thought out, regardless of whether it supports or contradicts with the views and/or opinions of others. We currently reside within a culture where we should speak our minds knowing that we can say whatever the heck we want. May it be from small group discussions to formal debates, or petty arguments with friends every once in a while, we Iskolars ng Bayan have absorbed this culture not only through thinking critically, but also in communicating these thoughts through words. However, often amidst the noise and the words we UP students throw out, we tend to forget to simply be silent and listen.
Silence is usually mistaken as being apathetic or merely letting things pass by, and this is something looked down on. Oftentimes the quiet people are misunderstood with these stereotypes. However, often do we forget in the number of times we speak that we ultimately fail to listen. After all, it’s impossible to talk and to listen at the same time, and if you think about it, what better way is there to attentively listen than to just be quiet and stay silent?
When you don’t talk, you become more sensitive to your external environment. In other words, you start to become more observant of the things happening around you. You begin to notice the small things about the people you go to class with or even the people you spend time with during your breaks. You observe that your seatmate is having difficulty understanding the lesson, so you offer to help out. You notice that the person you talk to most often speaks with a high-pitched voice, or maybe even with exaggerated hand gestures to go with it. You notice that your best friend is walking with his head down facing the floor, so you ask him if he’s okay. You begin to see the way your professor smiles when he teaches, meaning that he genuinely loves what he’s doing. You suddenly become more attuned to your surroundings and it’s as if all your senses are more open than when you talk.
One day after my class in AS, I opted to walk alone back to UPSE. I put on my earphones and drowned myself in music. As I was walking with no one to talk to, I simply remained silent and I was surprised by the number of things I suddenly noticed that I didn’t before in my previous walks. I noticed the sun shining brightly that day, along with the cloudless and clear blue sky. I noticed that the timeworn and giant trees along the academic oval shaded the road in such a way that it blocked out the heat without blocking the blue sky. In short, that 5-minute walk of solitary silence made me observe and notice things that I would normally overlook in any other day.
When you don’t talk, not only do you become more conscious of your external environment, you also begin to discern more clearly on your internal environment as well. You start to notice the small things about yourself. You suddenly take notice of every little discomfort, the way you act when you’re nervous, your pulse and heartbeat in certain situations, your weird mannerisms, your breathing pattern, etc. Along with the importance of being silent externally and taking notice of your surroundings, you begin to see the value of also being silent internally which results in a much calmer and clearer mind.
Internal silence also enhances your ability to listen fully, may it be to your professor teaching in front or to a friend who needs advice. When you don’t feel the need to talk, you’re able to be fully present and focused on what others may be saying. We all know the value of really listening without mentally composing and practicing a reply. In result, you’re able to completely absorb what he/she is saying. It’s also a way of showing that what he/she is saying is important to you.
It’s always important to keep in mind the value of being silent especially since it entails you to listen. However, we should also remember that it’s not enough to just listen; we should listen more. When you listen, you may hear your friend utter a curse word in every sentence he says. But when you listen more, you’ll see a friend who’s been having a bad day. When you listen, you’ll hear shouts and screams of people rallying inside the campus. But when you listen more, you’ll see student-activists simply wanting change in a system that has ultimately harmed them in one way or another. When you listen, you may hear your significant other push you away and tell you that he/she doesn’t need you. But when you listen more, you’ll see that he/she is just hurt and wants someone to hug him/her and tell him/her that everything will be okay. When you listen, you may hear and notice that particular car that keeps honking at every other car. But when you listen more, you’ll see that the man behind the wheel is a father who is rushing to the hospital to finally see both his wife and his newly born baby girl. In other words, it’s not enough that you just take in or absorb every little detail and observation you notice whether in your surroundings or within yourself; we should also take into consideration their situation, process what we’ve observed, and ultimately, listen more.
But whenever you listen to the things around you, you must never forget to listen to yourself as well. Listen to yourself and you will eventually realize all the things that people see in you and you’ll realize how much of a beautiful person you already are.
Regularly, take some time to stop talking both aloud and internally and just be silent. The beauty in silence is the time it gives you to listen both to your environment and to yourself, which results to not only having a better sense of your surroundings, but also a better idea and knowledge of who you really are. You will be surprised at what you can learn about the world and about yourself.
Howie Ronsayro is one of the incumbent SESC Freshman Batch Representatives. He’s also, according to Econfessions and the Diliman Files, “hot”.