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  • Writer's pictureChristopher McHale

THE WISDOM OF SILENCE


I’m a writer. A songwriter. A poet.


Since I was a kid I kept a journal and I poured it all in there. The truth. As I saw it. And of course mostly I missed it. It takes years, time, distance before you truly see things the way the are.


My parents were old school Irish. My whole family network of sister, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles was old school Irish.


What’s the core value of my Irish roots? Silence. If I can remember anything from conversations with my mother it’s this: We don’t talk about that.


It used to drive me crazy to hear my mother say those words. And she said them a lot.


I always wanted to unpack things, to understand, to learn, to dig down. It’s what artists do to create the great art, the art that speaks to our humanity, that helps us understand ourselves.


We don’t talk about that.


It’s not who we are.


Years later i see the wisdom of those words. Not that I totally agree with them. Just that I see the consequences of honesty in families and relationships when we speak our truth to each other.


Speaking your truth means accepting that the other person might shut down and cut you off. The bigger the truth you share, the deeper you go in your process to understand things, the bigger the consequences, all the way to you will be scapegoated, slandered and cut off. Exiled. Banned.


It’s a minor miracle to have relationship with the emotional maturity to deal with truth.


Claudia Alexandra writes “Truth in creativity can be achieved through a life of artistic integrity, marked by daily discipline, creative authenticity, and personal accountability.”


The life of an artist, a commitment to truth, means isolation, and a small circle of friends. An artist can rarely afford to let the outside world in when they’re showing the inside world out. It becomes impossible to produce art and see its acceptance or rejection.


To sustain family relationships over a lifetime requires even more restrictive rules Speaking your truth is not required. Silence is. We don’t talk about it is actually we can’t talk about it and survive as a family.


I’m sure there are families who live by personal and individual truth. But they need to be built that way. And it takes a high-level of emotional maturity.


On a more contemporary tip, we are currently dealing with another tribal conflict in the Middle East. As I said, I’m Irish. I’m Celtic. I’m Druid. At this point in my life I have no attachment to any of Abrahamic cultures. I have opinions on all this, but I keep those opinions to myself.


An artist can rarely afford to let the outside world in when they’re showing the inside world out.

I’ve been told silence is acceptance. I disagree. Silence is wisdom. As an artist I make my art to address the fundamental truth we navigate culturally. I examine our humanity and study the threats to our existence. I’ll question it all through my art. I’ll lay my truth bare in poems and songs and my memoire. On a page. Or a canvas. Or with my guitar in my hands.


I’m shunned by most of my family. In my deep naiveté I thought I could ask for truth, honesty, acceptance, emotional connection, but those desires work against a sustainable relationship in families built the way mine is. The converse is the relationships with truth at their core, acceptance, non-judgmental, must be treasured. They are so rare.


Our cancel culture, fueled by the Digital Anger Machine we call the Internet, teaches us the wisdom of silence. Truth is our most powerful weapon, but lies are now routinely weaponized against truth. An entire political party has committed to a platform of untruth, or what Stephen Colbert calls ‘truthiness.’ So what do we do? How do we live? How do we stand by truth?


And this is how I came to at last see the wisdom of my parents values. Truth is too important to our survival, our well-being, our integrity to be stir-fried on the stovetop of our daily lives. It needs to be nurtured. It’s delicate.


Bringing people to truth, asking them for the emotional maturity required to handle it, asking yourself to live by truth as an artist does is a big ask. It’s a lifetime commitment.


Maybe we get there in the end maybe we don’t. That’s not the point. The point is we walk the path.


We don’t talk about it. We live it. And we take time to understand the wisdom of silence as a portal to our ultimate truth. The need of every human to nurture love in their hearts.


It’s there. In the deepest part of you. In the silence. And it must remain unspoken. It absolutely must. It cannot take the daily discourse. It gets trampled. It gets lost. We don’t talk about it, because we don’t need to talk about it. We just need to connect our heart and soul and live our life, make our art, build our family, be there. Everyday.

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