(Photo Illustration by Autumn Mariano)
(Photo Illustration by Autumn Mariano)

This essay by Bingham High School junior Hannah White won first place in the inaugural COMMfest High School Essay Contest.

More profound than words that could ever be spoken, silence speaks to me. I believe that the words that hang in the air between two people, the words left unspoken, the words sometimes not even imagined, are those words that truly matter most. Awkward silence speaks the truth of relationships, sometimes between two quietly broken people. Comfortable silence tells of a friend, willing and able to hold another up through struggles and sorrow. There is a simple, astoundingly beautiful kind of silence which allows two people to exchange so much more than words, but emotions and feelings that could never be spoken aloud, could never be properly expressed except in silence. Noiselessness is tangible, packed with raw emotion and truth. It means infinitely more than empty words and empty promises. In moments of quiet, people too often wrack their brains to think of something, anything, to say in order to shatter the precious, fragile silence, when in reality, it is what says the most and deserves our ever-faithful heed. Silence penetrates the very soul — if one learns to listen. But people are afraid of listening to its voiceless words, maybe because somewhere inside, they know that it whispers of truth. But that is why silence speaks to me.

Silence possesses the power to forever alter lives. It wounds, destroys and pierces souls, souls that crave words and passion, souls that fear quiet destruction. It can bring havoc and ruin, and that is why people fear it. But it also heals, purifies and mends souls, souls that are broken and falling, souls crowded and pressured and muted by endless commotion. People too often forget that silence brings peace to tattered hearts, hearts abandoned by words never thought to be utterly hollow. This is why silence speaks to me.

Silence carries untold secrets and stories. One’s reticence may have infinite hidden meaning, hushed secrets buried and waiting to be unearthed. Silence reveals more than words to one who listens, and it holds unending, unflagging honesty. It is a transcendent storyteller, bringing tales of heartache and longing, of triumph and bliss. Innumerable narratives are wrapped up in quietude, anticipating discovery with an indescribable, delicate beauty. Stories swirl about in the wind of wistful silence. I hear minute whispers of these stories now and then, stories left untold but so very evident when one ponders the stillness. That is why silence speaks to me.

Everything silence holds is captivating, breathtaking, and whole. In it is found a utopia, unbound by social norms and standards. Silence unleashes imaginations to wander, run, and soar where they please, creating colossal ideas and wondrous fantasies. It kindles brilliance and illumination. It is endlessly spellbinding, creating wonder and beauty never imagined otherwise. It allows our minds to turn desolation into splendor and chaos into tranquility when the distractions surrounding us pound at our gates and crush in on us, adamant that we give in to their demands. Without silence, we would be torn apart completely. It extricates us from the exhilarating yet terrifying world of disorder and complexity and gives us clarity, peace and a matchless sense of completeness. And that is why silence speaks to me.

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