The Power of Silence


Earlier this year I met concert pianist, composer, poet, painter, and anthropologist Romayne Wheeler. He has dedicated his life to music, but is best known for his work with the Tarahumara [Rarámuri] native community in the Sierra Tarahumara. He has done remarkable things for the community, I encourage you to visit his website.

Romayne is a man one can learn a lot from. However the most valuable lesson I learned from him didn't come directly from him. It was something he learned from the Rarámuri and was now passing on to me.

He explained how silence, is a very powerful notion to the Rarámuri. They use it as a form of affection towards another person, but also as a form of authority and power.

Romayne told me how every now and then he would sit to contemplate the landscape of the beautiful Copper Canyon. In any given moment, a person would sit next to him for about an hour without saying a single word. Then, that person would stand up and leave, again without verbally expressing anything. In this case the person would be showing affection to Romayne.

This also reminds me of what my good friend Elias is always telling me: “El hombre es esclavo de las palabras que dice, y dueño de las palabras que calla.” Man is a slave of the words he says, and owner of the words he keeps quiet.

There is so much wisdom and utility in silence. And in a world that never stops talking, I think this is a trait we could all borrow from the Rarámuri.

Can you sit next to someone you know without saying a word and then leave?

Much happiness,

Hansel | @hanselps