I love language: as my sister Gina says to me, “you are woefully unable to keep your mouth shut.” OK, she’s right. For years, I used “Have Mouth, Will Travel” as my professional tag line, though now I tend to favor the new — and thoroughly modest — “a radically brilliant speaker and coach.”
Yes, I love language. I love the feel of it in my brain, the sound of it as it takes birth in the world. I love the energy of it. I love the drumbeat cadence of rhythmic, poetic speaking. I love how we can use language to understand each other, to form connections with each other, to become intimate with each other. I love the way language can enchant people and take them on glorious journeys of possibilities, of epiphanies and realizations about the mystery of life. I love the way language can be used to illuminate dark places and things, the way it can be used to encourage, to arouse, to awaken — yes, language is good!
These are just a few of the reasons I love language. But . . . there is something I love more than language, something vital to Speaking Truthfully. In fact, the Speaking Truthfully philosophy, principles, and practices were discovered in this thing that I love more than language.
I love silence more. I’ve known this for decades. And, intensifying that love affair with silence, I experienced what I call “the collapse of language” at some point during the five-year healing cocoon I lived in, courtesy of a number of cells-gone-wild (aka “lung cancer”). I lived for too many months to count without language. The whole structure of it, the very meaning of language itself, just collapsed within me. I was aware only of silence. I’ve written about this in a few Blog posts, most notably when speaking (irony abounds) about my “pony rides to oblivion.”
I didn’t miss language when it left me because I fell more deeply in love with the silence I had flirted with for decades — through such activities as meditation, self-inquiry contemplation, and mindfully paying attention to the miracle of breath. I didn’t miss language because within this primal silence — which appeared on its own, without any intention or effort on my part — I experienced a euphoria that I had never experienced in language. I was brought into rhythmic coexistence with the life-force, the very breath, that enlivens and sustains all living things. I experienced a level of clarity, of non-dogmatic “truth,” that language can only approximate. I experienced what mysticism calls unity-with-all-that-is. I experienced the peace and beauty and simplicity of utter silence, of unending stillness.