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by Dave Markwell

While on vacation last week, I had the fortunate opportunity to stumble across Steven Tyler’s autobiography. For anyone living under a rock for the past thirty years and who may not know, Steven Tyler is the front man for the legendary rock band, Aerosmith.

In full disclosure, I am always lured by sordid rock star stories of gratuitous and rampant drug use and groupie sex, so that was my first attraction. But as I read this book, I was struck by the insight and interesting perspectives from a genuinely unique and thoughtful guy. Even without the drugs and sex, this was still a pretty fascinating book.

One re-occurring idea that resonated with me was the significance of spaces. In his story, Steven, kept coming back to an idea about the spaces between the notes and what they say. The power of a pause and the timing of notes or words shape the message. The spaces create the meaning. The words are the “what”. The spaces between them are the “why”.

I find this idea compelling and true in more contexts than just a song. In life, what is not said is often most important. The strength of silence is powerful and somewhat unnerving if one happens to be on the business end of a prolonged and deliberate silence.

Growing up, my Dad was a man of few words. He was old school and not fond of much expression. Thusly, when he spoke, I listened. On the very rare occasions that I would screw up, I got yelled at. My Mom was always the first in line, but Dad would sometimes follow up with his thoughts about my behavior, if my Mom’s yelling was insufficient.

However, when my crime was grievous enough my Dad was silent. I knew I had really stepped into some deep sh*t when he was quiet. This was not good. I really wished he would just yell at me instead of quietly gazing at me with a “look”. His look was loud and said much more than his words could have. I hated the “look.”

Nowadays, I get the “look” from my wife. And so, the power of silence is alive and well in my life.

Significant spaces create the moment. The true depth and meaning of words is found in between their spaces. This is an interesting phenomenon. Much is made of intonation and rather garish displays of verbal circus tricks, but for my money, a well-placed and well-timed silence is more affective and important than whatever happens on either side of this space.

In our life, we are faced with much noise. From all directions, we are bombarded by the cacophonous whine of the world. Now and then, we find some peace and this peace is in our silence. It is the empty, yet full, spaces between the notes of our life that create our song. And it’s a pretty good song when we slow down…and listen to the quiet…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his new exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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