The Problem with Silence

10/11/2010 04:00 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Tom Matlack Venture capitalist-turned-writer; founder, The Good Men Project

What does the rain have to teach me?

For all I have been gifted -- children, wife, money, trips, health, joy -- there are still days when dark clouds roll in, when no one calls, when I have nothing to do, when my glass is empty.

Depression, addiction, business school, venture capital, writing, running, bike riding, kickboxing are all ways to avoid the silence. None work as well as seeing the light in my children's eyes or holding my wife's curves at night.

But inevitably I find myself alone, again, on a rainy day.

There's a relief to the emptiness. I'm tired of running, or erecting false Gods. I want to see the truth. And that's only possible when I sit still, literally no idea where to go next.

Staring at a blank page, or out a rain-covered window, is the moment when anything is possible. It's the moment of submission, when my will has no power over me. I am cradled by something bigger and better than my weak brain can imagine.

Too often I look at the world with blinders on. I become obsessed with getting from point A to point B. Progress in that journey fills with me with meaning. I get high on accomplishment. I am on my way to importance, to a place where my soul will become immortal, to a sunny beach filled with beautiful people all revering my greatness.

It's during the rainstorm when I see how all my point Bs are merely mirages, water to a thirsty man. But in my disorientation I can see outside my own clenched fist. I notice the vibrant color, usually washed away by sun. I stare at waves crashing on the rainy beach. And I realize they are not my doing. I am a visitor in a strange land, planted her for a reason I know not.

The moment of silence always ends. I meet someone new. A thought crosses my mind. The impulse to move, to do, to strive, overcomes my body once again. The sun comes out. My world becomes busy and loud again.

Until the next rain.