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  • Writer's picturedouglas

Silence is golden

Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities and I loved living there for most of the 80’s and all of the 90’s. I especially treasured the month of August when the place would take on a new lease of life and become the biggest Arts Festival in the world.

Of course some people disliked the Festival because, according to them, it brought more disturbance and mayhem and was just too noisy - possibly, and yet right in the heart of one of the most bustling thoroughfares in our country you could find a place of solace and enlightenment, and I’m not talking about a Church.

Entering the doors of the Scottish national gallery, in the middle of Princes’ street, would take you into a different realm from the carnival atmosphere and the theatre actors performing on the streets outside.

I often retreated there and valued the treasures created by the Old Masters as well as the many exhibits and sculptures on display. It was an oasis of tranquillity in the midst of the August jamboree. And if it was silence you were after then the gallery was often quieter than a cemetery on a rainy Tuesday afternoon.

I’m a great believer that silence is a necessary and essential part to healthy living especially when our lives are often filled with noise: 24 hour TV, muzac in shops and lifts, headphones attached to mobile phones, meetings full of talking, traffic, crowds and footsteps, and even worship which is often active and not always peace-filled.

I believe that silence is essential although embracing it is becoming something of a rarity and when it does interrupt our busy lives we are not sure what to do with it. Even silent remembering is less common nowadays as so often crowds at football matches or folks lining streets for hearses of soldiers or celebrities are inclined to offer a minute’s applause rather than the two-minutes of stillness.

In a world of busyness and noise, whether it’s a Festival crowd or worshippers in a church - which is often full of activity and words anyway - we sometimes need to seek that special space – that silent arena so that we can feel at peace with ourselves and with the world which is no bad thing.


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