“Often it’s best to be silent”

Often it’s best to be silent
When all around you are speaking,
To be like a captain out at sea
In the midst of storm:
Calm but deeply focused.

People may say:
Don’t be passive,
Speak your mind,
Come out from your shell.

These people misunderstand
Your stillness for passivity,
Your silence for fear,
Your depth for a protective shell.

They may ask:
What are you thinking?
What are you feeling?
Why don’t you share?
Why don’t you join in?
Are you shy?
Are you upset?

Let these questions come and go,
These people do not understand you.

They want to draw you out onto the surface
You need to be drawn back down into the depths.
They want you to be light and cheerful,
You need to be true to how you are truly feeling.
They want you to be who they want you to be,
You need to be who you are.

They do not understand
That underneath your calm surface intense storms rage,
That saying nothing does not mean you have nothing to say,
That spoken words and surface forms mean little or nothing to you,
That you would prefer to spend your days with the silent desert,
Your nights with the wordlessly powerful sea,
Hours of darkness passing in you like winds through a tree.

You are the captain of your own ship.
Why should you let anyone else captain your ship?

In the midst of storm,
You remain calm but deeply focused.

In the midst of fire,
You remain cool but not cold.
You let your emotions run their course
In the complex inner rivers of your heart and mind.

In the midst of the earthquake,
You remain steadfast and unshaken.

In the midst of the hurricane,
You remain the eye that observes
Without being disconnected from what you observe.
You remain the eye to be connected with the more-than-I.

So when the next person asks:
Why don’t you talk more?
When the next person says:
Don’t be so passive,
Speak your mind;
When the next person tries to draw you out onto the surface,
Tries to pull you up like a prize fish from the deep, still water…

Read them this poem.