I was a 19-year old recruit at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego, CA, the first time I heard “Shut Your Pie Hole. ” I also believe the person wearing the wide brim Campaign cover added the word maggot — a drill instructor’s way of warming up to you.
I’ve never been a pie eater, so the phrase took me a couple of seconds to grasp. Quietness, wrapped in a smothering dose of fear and uncertainty, consumed the bus. The environment and the drill instructor’s rehearsed commands quickly branded the context into my brain.
As I listened to the DI give us a greeting from the commanding general, followed with a polished overview of what we were to do after the command “get off the bus,” I thought a split personality was erupting within my head. The moment I “shut my pie hole” I heard my internal drill instructor go off, “I TOLD YOU JOINING THE MARINE CORPS WAS STUPPPPPPID!!!! I felt the power of silence.
It’s been more than 40-years since I got off the bus at MCRD San Diego, but I still remember the six lessons I learned at double-time from silence.
- Silence creates a Salvador Dali surreal focus;
- Silence is noisy as a group of Cicadas, and allows the imagination to go buck wild;
- You must let the voice in your head run free until it is exhausted. The majority of the voices will be non-supportive of the silence, and will sing a hypnotic siren song to get you to surrender and break the silence;
- Your internal positive voice will chill in the background while the chatty negative voice gives you a mental workout;
- The positive, rational, solution-oriented voice will emerge like a jack-in-the-box;
- You have to let go, enjoy the ride, listen and discover what you heard but didn’t hear (think about it).
I’ve learned to love silence since becoming friends. No radio. No television. No meaningless banter. No problem. I have taken long distance drives without radio or CD. For me, silence is absolutely golden.
The challenge is sitting for an hour or more and appreciate silence. Just me and my thoughts. No cell phone. No computer. No books. No soothing background music, or nature sounds. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
The intention is to hear what my heart is telling me. To intently listen to my heart without any obstructions or distractions.
The environment at MCRD forced me to embrace silence. I don’t know how many hours I’ll have to sit before my heart starts to talk. I pray it tells me it’s deepest desire when it does.