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  • Writer's pictureMj Pettengill

The Sound of Silence

Updated: Apr 27, 2021

Burning Book, CC0
Burning Book, CC0

I used to tell my friends that there was no such thing as writer’s block, that it was simply time to dwell in the void. From a mental and spiritual perspective, it is impossible to be in a productive mode constantly. We need time to catch up with ourselves, percolate, and embrace the unknown. It is essential to take one’s hands off of the wheel, allowing space for being.

It is helpful to avoid words such as block, unproductive, or stuck. These terms imply a negative state. Trusting and allowing time to sit comfortably on the observer’s perch or residing in an undefinable place is part of the magic. This portal is missed if forcing yourself to create.

During these times of perceived nothingness, we have an opportunity to explore the mysteries of the unknown. When our cup is full and overflowing, there is no room for something new. It is wise to empty and release, holding a space for what is waiting to be birthed and reborn.

Our culture is fast-paced—frantic. Many of our accomplishments are based on quantity. This manifests in how much we can pull off, how many hours we work, how much stuff we have, etc. It’s a race to the finish line.

Let’s face it, for over a year now, we have been immersed in numerous life-altering changes, the crisis du jour. Such an onslaught of conflicting, troubling events will ultimately wear one down.

There are methods to self-protect, to alleviate this shock and awe syndrome. For me, it begins with eliminating the programming that we take in via television, social media, and other platforms. I use my social media to share poetry, art, and inspiring quotes. I provide links to my blogs and website. I scroll past political rants and controversial invites. I gain a sense of what’s happening. I’m not a fan of censorship, and the hatred for the other side is emotionally harmful. On Twitter, I belong to a handful of writing and arts communities; this keeps me there on a minimal basis.

So, if you do choose sides, then you may find my aversion to censorship a reason to place me in a particular camp, some sort of red flag—Oh, she’s one of them. Case in point! As one born and raised in a country that boasts freedom of speech, I am deeply troubled by the fact that so many are silenced. Does it mean that I would agree with those voices that are blocked or eliminated? Not necessarily. If I am unable to hear what they have to say, I do not know. I’m not afraid, so bring it on. How is it possible to navigate these troubling times if we cannot view the complete picture? It’s okay to disagree. It’s part of the human experience and the so-called moral fabric of America.

The right to speak and express ourselves freely has been mortally wounded, knocking on death’s door. I don’t support violence, rage, and attacks present via those who happen to maintain a voice. However, I do respect those who express themselves articulately, making a point. I have witnessed scholars from such universities as Oxford and Harvard removed from social media. I would like to know their views. I might scroll through and never read anything from them again, or I might experience an aha moment. But that’s not possible anymore. I don't get to decide.

The beauty of this Freedom of Speech thing is that we may practice the art of tolerance. In fact, tolerance itself has been eliminated. I may disagree, and then again, I might not. The opportunity for us to use our own discretion has been stolen. I have a problem with that.

Respectful disagreement invites evolution. The negatively charged environment in the ongoing information war breeds more division. We have lost our way. Sadly, the current chaotic environment has weakened us as a species. Families, friends, and communities are deeply divided, and in some cases, falling apart.

Every person reading this knows of someone in their lives who fought for these freedoms, these truths, these inalienable rights. Some were or are 0n the front lines, others in supporting roles. For those who did go to war, sacrificing life, limb, and peace of mind, I ask that we respect them. My son currently serves in the military. I am very proud of him and continue to pray for the honoring of all veterans, past, present, and future.

But how… how do we find our own peace within this vortex? First, it’s vital to maintain a connection with your instincts and intuition. After all, who needs to read a constant ticker about illness, cases, and deaths. Does one need to see this data repetitively? Does it help or harm you? If you must know of every case in each county around the clock, then you are in luck. If this information enhances your life and guides you along on your journey, travel well.

It is helpful to be informed rather than obsessed. Obsession is fuel for anxiety, which wreaks havoc on the mind/body/spirit. One may need to wean away from the constant intake of information. At some point, it becomes an addiction. Somehow, we have acquired the need to know on a heightened basis. Awareness of this condition highlights the benefits of being in the void. In my mind’s eye, I imagine this space as the lowest point between waves, the trough. We cannot have waves or tides without this.

When I am in this setting, I remember to exhale. To me, the sound of the waves is a lullaby. I tend to find music in most things. However, without the space in-between, none of this exists. As you know, some waves are massive and fierce, wielding unimaginable power. While the low point provides an undercurrent, driving the waves ashore. We often miss possibilities when we do not consider the whole.

Not everyone lives in a rural landscape, but there are ways to find solitude in the great outdoors. I often express the significance of reclaiming our place in nature, remembering that we are nature, and She is not separate from us. Even if you only sit on the front steps and look at the sky (day or night), you are connecting to a greater source, unplugging from repetitive chatter.

It gets better when you get off of the steps and move out into the world. Grounding is a practice hardly mentioned in the Western world. Still, there are great benefits in walking outdoors—barefoot if possible. Listen to the bird chorus, notice which trees are budding, the ripples on the pond, the sound of a stream. Which plants are showing up? The brave ones that grow in the sidewalk crack or an abandoned parking lot are usually the most resilient. What does that represent?

If you have read my work, you know that my intentions are for acknowledging those in the past who have been silenced—literally and figuratively—buried anonymously. I pour through records that were lost, some said to have been burned in a fire. I have read countless diaries, letters, and newspaper articles that illuminate events that were lost or not meant to see the light of day. Now, I am witnessing this withholding of information in real-time and on a grand scale.

It is not my goal to sway anyone on any particular subject. After all, we are sovereign beings. Allegedly, we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. This omitting and heavy editing of information is not new. If it were, I would not be a facilitator of social, intergenerational, and cultural trauma integration. I would not be a historical whistleblower.

Once again, regarding history, I emphasize acknowledgment over judgment. We were not there. But we will never learn if we keep running from our past. We are now experiencing colossal hiding of certain truths. What are they? I do not know. I’ve seen bits and pieces of what is considered to be controversial. What I do know is that we no longer have access to all information. We cannot decide for ourselves what we choose to believe or discard.

The significance of openness and transparency should not be taken lightly. A future version of myself understands the difficulties and human tragedy that can arise when information is intentionally withheld from all citizens.

As a species, are we developed or advanced enough to stop the suppression of information? It may not be in plain sight now, but it will not stay hidden forever. There will be those like me who will unearth what was excluded from the mainstream narrative, someone who will stumble across a site with hundreds of anonymous graves and blank pages where their names should have been recorded. It isn’t about which side is right or wrong. You decide for yourself. It’s about letting freedom ring—access to all information—the power of choice.


Peter Murray
Peter Murray
May 02, 2021

I've been busy lately so I am getting to your most recent posts a bit late. You hit two topics that resonate with me. First the dreaded writers block. For those that say there is no dreaded writers block I say they are wrong, I have lived through it. When it happens I set my stuff aside and work on another idea. I also take a break. Within the vacation I live my life and take care of Dad which is becoming harder by the day. Usually something hits me within the vacation and the writers block is gone.

Onto the Freedom of Speech topic. I've been struggling with this a lot lately. I have now had two people d…


Eli Pacheco
Eli Pacheco
Apr 27, 2021

I find myself in a similar position as you, wishing for all voices to be heard, but also finding solace in the silence I can escape to. I aspire to find my own peace and to hope that all those around me can also. Glad I ran across this post on LinkedIn today.

Mj Pettengill
Mj Pettengill
Apr 27, 2021
Replying to

Your description is aligned with how I feel. Being aware helps to navigate these complex times. Thank you.

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