I am one of two white Americans living in a small mountain village in central Mexico. My first language is not recognized here. Though I understand enough spanish to do my shopping, order in a restaurant and acquire basic necessities, I do not speak well enough to hold a conversation with a local. They try to listen to what I’m struggling to say, but eventually their eyes glaze and my words begin to echo in my head. They are no longer listening.
I am often alone in our mountain home with three children who are younger than five. I have a cell phone that works when the sky is clear and the wind is blowing just right. Though my children speak and understand my language, they rarely listen when I talk. Like every mother who has ever had children, I repeat myself so that the words swim around the space in front of me, never reaching the ears of the little ones who have long since tuned me out.
I have a man who is Native. Indigenous. His small build, strong features and brown skin belong to this land. His mind still belongs to el otro lado. After ten years living the American dream, it is hard to come back. There is no money here. Money is everything to modern men. Though he understands the english language, my words are often hollowed before they leave my lips. He does not comprehend the depth of what I say. Not for the language barrier as much for the differences between men and women. There is a wide canyon that neither can cross.
Diminished, wasted words steal intentions and dilute potency, returning nothing. The energy behind these dreams seeps into the void and disappears.
Well one day I decided that I would just stop talking. Waiting to see what would happen, I set about doing my morning chores in silence. I made a fire, fed the chickens and sorted beans. When one of the children needed something, I either did it or I didn’t. I did not talk about it. When someone was doing something they shouldn’t be, I stopped what I was doing, went to them and quietly removed them from the bad thing. This sounds like it would require a lot of extra effort, but the truth is, it didn’t. I quickly decided that it was impossible to react or redirect every little thing, so I only chose those that were the most important. I did not yell. I instead chose to let natural consequences rule. Even if that meant getting hurt. By the end of the first day, I realized that I had accomplished more than usual and was not exhausted. I clearly saw exactly how much energy comes out of my mouth!
The second day continued on much like the first, with one small difference. I allowed myself to speak only when absolutely necessary, and using very limited vocabulary. The first thing I noticed was that each and every time I spoke, the person I was addressing heard me, listened and responded. This was a welcome change that lasted throughout the following days. By the end of the third day, I noticed that my internal method of processing stimuli began to shift. Things that would have caused a heightened stress response (or a fight) were simply noted and discarded instead of reacting and intensifying the problem. By limiting my external responses, I was actually regulating my internal responses. This was interesting.
I should note, as well, that I chose to stay close to home during this time. There is so much to do here each day, that I felt as though I was spreading myself thin with each jaunt into the outside world. When we needed groceries or supplies, I made a simple, concise list and handed it over along with enough money to purchase said items. V could go to town at his leisure, I got what I needed. No fuss, no drama. Likewise, when food was hot and ready, I made it known. They could choose to come and eat or wait until it was cold. Thats it.
At some point my other sensory perceptions began to increase. Like a good old fashioned acid trip, I became hyper sensitive and much more aware. Sounds that used to be background noises rang out with new resonance. The birds chirping, crickets at night and the sound the fridge made when the motor kicks on. Closed spaces suffocated. The droning sound of far off bass provoked heart palpitations. I could suddenly hear every living thing. Every sound that I made seemed louder, I was even sewing loudly and found a new way to do so without making so much noise. The sound vibrations in my throat felt strange and the slightest disturbance in other peoples energy stabbed at me like needles. Just because I was clearing my own space didn’t mean anyone else was. When the energy of those around me felt disorganized or scattered, my first inclination was to offer food. This worked most of the time. Sometimes though, in silence and stillness, all I could do was walk away. So I did, as often as I needed to, even if I only went as far as the porch.
These strange new occurrences not only strengthened my resolve to seek silence but also made me think. When I stopped making so much noise I was really able to listen. What else was I missing by bumbling around, routinely unaware, as I moved throughout each day? What began as an outrageous response to the fighting and chaos that was plaguing our household turned in to a very valuable lesson. It was a way to end the awfulness of never being heard and the dissolve the feeling of non-importance. It was a way of screaming out FUCKING FUCK THIS SHIT without the backlash. I was tired of constant drama and bickering and dischord, and it appeared that I was the only one that could call up such a profound shift. In creating peace and banishing struggle, the ball was definitely in my court. Like Randall said in that double row meeting that time, Just Don’t. So I didn’t. And I’m not. Thanks Randall! It’s really that simple.
I do not feel stifled, I feel liberated. I feel like I’m holding my seat in a good way. I am not giving my power away. I’m not perpetuating struggle and hardship. I’m allowing space for my intentions to take root and blossom. It’s amazing where human potential can take you if you simply let go and allow.
So as it went, I lived quietly for four days before I started speaking again. If that doesn’t sound like very long, try it some time. In the days following this experiment, I found myself much more aware of my thoughts and sounds. I was choosing my words wisely and that felt very good. I have continued responding only when necessary with the kids and let natural consequences do most of the work. Some people in the states would call this approach lazy or irresponsible; I call it primal. Take a lesson from our animal relatives. This is working.
Some things that stood out to me this week… Actions speak louder than words. Repeating yourself is never worth it. Neither is yelling at someone across a distance. If you want something done, do it yourself. If you dont want to do it yourself, it probably isn’t that important. Live for yourself and never compare yourself to others, especially when it comes to perceived work load, intelligence or financial status. And never ever think you know, because you probably don’t. Speaking aggressively causes stress, even “yell-whispering”. And finally, it’s crucial to know when to call it; whether it’s food time, bed time or time to go home… Jump before the ship sinks and you all die.