The Great Silencer

A few weeks ago, I thought I was going to write about shame. I had a title and the inspiration, but no time. The muse darted off to haunt someone else, and I don’t feel badly for it.

I’m not writing directly about shame today, either. However silencing, it is not the silencer to which I refer. We'll come back to it when next it roars onto the pathway.

This one is different. It extends its tentacles beyond the reaches of emotions. It ignores boundaries. It ignores discipline. It ignores personality. It pulses, comes in waves, strikes suddenly, disregards every measure taken to prevent it. Surely and swiftly, creeping up on us without announcement or chance to defend, it mercilessly steals the life we thought we were going to have. I hate it with a passion.

On a good day, I can articulate my purpose, values, dreams, and all the ways I can serve the cause of goodness, peace, and love. I’m an on-fire woman of truth who knows herself and her business here on this planet.

On a not-so-good day, all I can do is surrender to my need to cope with ____.

The Great Silencer is…


It’s a monster. No other way seems fit to describe it. I’ve had years of work snatched in the small increments of hours to days from my life, knocking me breathless, leaving me in a fetal position asking “why” and hoping, begging to be heard by Someone powerful enough to deliver me. Met with silence.

Pain doesn’t supply a pamphlet of answers. Ever. Only leaves me with more and more questions and doubts.

I suppose on the flip side, it has been an effective teacher. Through it I’ve learned to be a fighter. I’ve learned to plan to my strengths. I’ve learned to accept that not having my it together every day doesn’t make me a failure. Yet there are still days, and there always will be, where the things I long to create, to breathe into being and warmth, are left sitting cold on the back burner because my fire has gone out.

It takes the biggest leap of faith to try to light it again the next day, or the next, or the one after. Whichever one I find a burst of energy waiting within. It’s a huge risk to keep believing like that. I find it’s an even bigger one to give up hoping, though.

So I continue. Continue is a powerful word. It breaks through the emotional paralysis of all the when, how, why, and what-in-the-worlds that keep stopping me in my tracks and demanding reasons when there aren’t any.

I keep moving forward. Onward through reality. Writing the story I want to live. Realizing the answer isn’t in the pain, but resides in all the space I’ve learned to create around it. So much space! And where there is space, an invitation goes out for compassion and empathy and sacred work to move in.

Relief is now a value of mine. I look for ways to create it in daily experience. I find it worthwhile to stay present with others who are learning to look for the space around the pain. (This is the practice of creative presence I am so passionate about.) And when we discover it… joy.

This is a work in progress. The process may prove to be lifelong or it may involve a miracle and a new path. I am going to exercise my agency to live in the here and now and not worry about all further down the road details. Today I will dwell in the contradiction of being present to the pain while joyfully making the best of things, as is my from-childhood art and gift.

There is power in the space, in the not giving up, in the choosing of rest, and in relentlessly choosing hope. Time has taught me to believe in light... Even when... Even when. Pain is not my story. This is my story.

Jamie Bagley