Submission — Chris Ratz

Ten Days Of Silence

27. Oktober 2013 — MYP No. 12 »My Silence« — Text: Chris Ratz, Photo: Samantha Ravenda

“Does it feel like you are taking me to some strange summer camp?” I asked, looking at the directions in my shaky hands. “Yes, kind of”, admitted my father. My parents had offered to drive me to the meditation retreat I was embarking upon. I think they were mildly nervous about it, and wanted to see where I would be spending the next ten days.

Though I had been talking about doing this for the past fourteen years, no one was as nervous as me. Ten days of waking up at four a.m. Ten days of intense meditation practice. Ten days of silence. “How are you going to go ten days without talking?” That is what I heard from everyone when I told what I was doing. It was a fair enough question, if mildly insulting. I’d never even meditated before.

To everyone around me it seemed I lived a pretty loud life. “I’m single. I actually spend most of my time in silence”. That said, get a couple of drinks in me and I would not stop vying for the center of attention, so I understood it. I often had more than a couple of drinks in me.

Mostly I was terrified of sitting for an entire hour at a time without moving. I’ve never had a desk job, and I chose films to watch based on which one was shorter. So, finding silence in my body was no small challenge. Finding silence in my mind was, even at the end of the course, nearly impossible.

The silence from not speaking to anyone turned out to be the easiest part of the whole thing, and to my surprise, a huge relief. It didn’t take me long to realize how much of my time was noisily spent trying to formulate and influence people’s opinion of me. Once the course started I was suddenly not allowed to concern myself with others’ thoughts.

Ten days later, when we broke our silence, I looked down at my hands. They were shaking like the day I arrived. It was incredibly strange to start speaking again, to look people in the eye. It didn’t take long for me to start rattling my mouth off again, but I came away with a very strong appreciation for silence. It has become a very important part of my life. Something I never knew how much I needed.

Chris Ratz is one of the main characters of the movie “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” and the TV series “Bitten”