The Sound of Silence


“Hello, darkness my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again”.

Beware the middle of the night voices. You know the voices I mean – those ones that taunt you in the early hours of the morning, in the pitch black and in the chilling still air. The voices that tell you what a human trainwreck you are. The voices that remind you of all your debt, all your shortcomings, all your personal flaws, all your worries.

Don’t worry reader. I haven’t gone totally bonkers, in need of being carted off to the nearest psychiatric hospital (the Henry Bennett Centre in this part of New Zealand). I’m not “hearing voices” – well of the certifiable kind anyway.

I’m talking about the internal voices of self-doubt that come to haunt you at your lowest ebb, usually in the early hours of the morning. Actually, it is usually at about four in the morning for me – at about the time this blog post is being written, having just experienced one of ‘those nights”.

It’s amazing how miserable life can appear to be at 4 am. Dark. Cold. Silent, apart from the odd truck rolling by (I live near a main highway).

Yet that silence can be broken by an internal monologue of doubts and fears, unchecked by reason. Indeed, I keep hearing the classic Simon and Garfunkel anthem, “The Sound of Silence,” echoing through my brain, over and over again. Except it is actually the brilliant power rock version, performed by Disturbed, that constantly plays in my head. In the middle of the night, the sound of silence can be overpowering and mind-blowing.

I suddenly take responsibility for all of the world’s problems. My own failings and misfortunes become catastrophic. Life’s hurdles suddenly grow to become mammoth-sized, towering above me, like insurmountable obstacles I can neither overcome nor bypass.

I toss. I turn. I sweat. I worry. I panic. I shiver. I shake. I don’t sleep.

Eventually, the voices in my head dissipate and slink away again, like ghostly spirits, just not of the friendly type like Casper; until tomorrow night, when I know they will come visiting and haunt me once again.

And then, “like the flash of a neon light,” I’m awake. Sun streams through the gaps in the curtains. It’s daytime. The world continues to rotate.

Suddenly, my problems seem less of a concern. I’m no longer responsible for all of the world’s issues. My own fears and insecurities melt away like butter in sunlight.

Life continues to progress. Sure there are still things to be sorted out. Debts remain, still needing to be repaid. I continue to live in a house on the market and are still behind on rent (if you’re reading this, Rob, I am working on it). But in the daylight, these all seem like hiccups in life’s long journey. Life seems so much easier and is less of a concern. Any problems appear to be fixable, one action step at a time.

It’s amazing how much difference a few hours, and the arrival of light and warmth, can make. The sound of silence can play havoc with your mind during those dark hours.

It’s important to remember that old cliche. Tomorrow will always be another day. A day for reinventing oneself, to be the person you always wanted to be.

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