The power of silence.
My sense of feeling at a loss of words, which started a few weeks ago, has persisted. My programmed, immediate reaction to this state has been one of frustration, one of punitive self-talk, one of feeling useless, a failure. I read articles on overcoming creative block, on regaining motivation, on cookie-cutter templates of what to write to have a constant stream of things to publish.
I recognize that I am in perpetual conflict, wanting to shapeshift to embody the changes I dream for the world while feeling the pressures to constantly “produce” in order to be “of value”—based on how that is predominantly defined.
But should we question: What does it mean when “the economy” only values the fruits of “production”—of goods, content, and services—when what we need to give the Earth (and ourselves) more room to breathe and recover is to slow down, to use, consume, do, and produce less?
What would it mean to value the restorative role of rest, taking a pause, and being quiet enough, for long enough, to really feel and tune in deeply to the subtle needs and desires of those around us and the world-at-large?
The way I wish to value my work as a “content creator” is not the quantity of what I put out, but its potency, its ability to seed prolonged contemplation, and its rooted fearlessness to break molds. So the time I spend going inward, withholding judgment or commentary to simply listen, becoming passive to learn, has been just as important, if not even more important, than what I end up writing and saying. And I know these are sentiments that many feel in their own fields of work—how can we be cherished for our whole sense of humanity, not just when we put out measurable and quantifiable deliverables?
I yearn so much for the world to value such intangible yet integral parts of growth and transformation for everyone—for our collective healing.
The reason that I have loved my role as the host of Green Dreamer Podcast (and have been so consistent with that) is that it honors my curiosity, my sense of having more questions than answers. But my relationship with publishing thought pieces here based on my own analyses and insights is one that I have mixed feelings about and even struggled with—especially when I fluctuate back into a state of wanting to just sit back and absorb.
Those who are newer to my newsletter may expect something from me on a weekly basis. And I know I lose supporting subscribers during the months when I send fewer emails.
But nevertheless, I have decided that I do not want to publish content for the sake of doing it, for the sake of going by a fixed newsletter schedule. I do not want to add meaningless noise to the world of information overload, incentivized by the economy of production, if my brewing thoughts or inquiries on a particular subject simply have not matured enough, requiring me to be quiet and allow what I am learning to marinate for longer.
And I am coming to see that silence itself should be understood as a message and can be incredibly powerful—in part to really underscore and give more weight and potency to everything that ends up being expressed.
“If you think about, for instance, the idea of digital activism today, most of it is just completely predictable and dull because people feel like they have to say something profound every single day of the year. You see this on Twitter: You have these Twitter activists. You can go back through their stream over the past two years, and they haven't said anything new other than just repeating the same kind of process over and over.
One of the brilliant things about the Zapatistas… was they understood the importance, every now and again, of just being silent.
There would be times where they would just go back into their communities, and you wouldn't hear from them for six months. Silence becomes also a weapon where you can actually use it to say something meaningful.
I think we confuse activism today with just constantly being present, constantly saying something, constantly having the need to be active in whatever kind of way—
rather than actually stepping back and saying, maybe this takes a bit more time, maybe we need to ask deeper questions about the nature of the human condition, maybe we need to understand from history that by far, the most devastating revolutions or the most disastrous human consequences tried to happen overnight, and actually, recognize perhaps the most radical thing we can do in politics today is insist upon a new temporality.”
What if we noticed more not just what is present, but what is absent, not just what is spoken explicitly out loud, but what is left unsaid or shared more subtly, in other volumes, languages, signs, and expressions?
What if we honored the value, role, and power of silence?
A reflection of my state of being.
I’m not leaving. But I share this piece in part to let you know that I have been struggling mentally and am leaning into my unavoidable feelings of wanting to listen over talk, to decenter myself and be small, to be okay with not having anything profound to share, to understand over forming opinions.
My live, informal conversations over at UPROOTED (live) will continue more or less once a week (at least into the summer, for now), and our Green Dreamer episodes will continue with their regular weekly programming as well.
As for my thought pieces here, which are more reflective of my state of being in both message and form, I hope to set expectations that they will not publish by a certain schedule but rather by their readiness to fruit and see the light of day.
Even when I am “absent”, though, I hope people know that I am present—in other ways. Unless I fall ill or state otherwise, my silence just means I am observing, absorbing, and processing what I am learning. When I have critical insights and connections that feel significant enough to share, I will do so. For the sustainability and maximized impact of this platform, I need to release it from rigidity and rules.
I so appreciate those who continue to value my work in more holistic ways. I have also created more “tiers” of optional supporting subscriptions below in case this changes anything or helps others to be able to reciprocate a small gift for all of my published pieces here.
Wishing you well, always.
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Join me next week on UPROOTED (live) as I converse with brontë velez and Gavin Van Horn open-endedly about kinship. This discussion will be live and interactive, open to listener questions and contributions.