Friday, 15 February 2013

Day of Silence Guest Blog

Blogger Aly has attempted a day of silence, inspired by Chelsea Knot in Hannah Harrington's new novel Speechless. Read on to see how she got on...

One day of silence. It shouldn’t be too hard, right? Wrong. Very, very wrong. I thought a day of silence would be a very cool, maybe enlightening, social experiment. As soon as I woke up in the morning, I wanted to talk. Maybe it was one of those things where you want something more when you can’t have it. I don’t know, whatever the case, I immediately wanted to back out.

One of the first things I did when I woke up was to make some rules. It’s not like Chelsea decided to take a vow of silence without thinking. She set up some parameters.
The Rules:

  1. Can’t talk aloud (not even to myself).
  2. I can write down responses to direct questions asked of me (including text, but in the texting only allowed in cases of emergency, not for socialization purposes).
  3. Defining the day from when I woke up (10:00 am) to midnight.
  4. No Social media.
  5. Have to go out into the world.

I made up those specific rules because I wanted to put myself in as close to a situation that Chelsea would’ve had to endure. She couldn’t lock herself in her room all day, she had to go to school and be an active part of her community…just a silent member.
Overall, I think I achieved my goal. I think I learned a lot from this situation. It was such an experience. For most of the day I feared and hoped that people would notice my silence. I was terribly frightened that someone would come up and try to talk to me. I dreaded it. What would I say? How would I react? Would I accidentally forget my vow of silence, and answer a question? Would they think me rude, or a mute, or a foreigner because I couldn’t answer?

For the most part though, that wasn’t the case. I put myself in situations that would require human interactions. For the most part, strangers didn’t realize I wasn’t talking. But when I tried to explain to my roommate, what I was doing, hilarity ensued. At first it was like a game of charades, but then I remember I could write down answers to her questions.

That day was such a lonely day. I took to it harder than I expected. I found myself wanting to be a part of conversations. There was one point when I was studying in a library, I saw an old couple whispering to each other and I became so envious. I wanted that. I wanted to share such an intimate and innocent gesture with somebody, and at the point of the day, I would’ve settled for anybody.

That moment made me realize how much harder Chelsea had it.  She wasn’t just taking a stand. She wasn’t just punishing herself. She was denying herself one of the most important basic human needs – human interaction. For a large part of the novel, she had no one to unload or share this heavy burden.  I can only imagine what she was feeling, because at the end of the end (literally) I knew my situation was only temporary. For Chelsea, if or when she talks, is an uncertainty. I had the option of quitting. It wasn’t the same for Chelsea. Her silence was to make amends for the damage that her words cause.

At the same time, this day of silence wasn’t completely horrible. My silence allowed me to take myself out of any given situation and observe. I had a chance to notice things and be more aware. I noticed how a mother would talk to her child, in a soft but instructing voice. I noticed a couple arguing, the girlfriend clearly frustrated and the boyfriend seemingly indifferent. My silence allowed me to stop looking only at the broader picture, and focus on the small details too.
That being said, it’s not something that I would try again soon, but it’s an experience that I’m glad that I’ve had.

Aly from
My Heart Hearts Books

Speechless by Hannah Harrington is out now from Mira Ink. Get your copy here.

Have you, or would you ever attempt a day of silence? Tell us in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure I could have done that, I spend a lot of time talking to my mum and my boyfriend about the events of the day, or problems with work. Glad to hear you learned something from it though!