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Experience: I didn’t speak for 17 years

Dec 2nd, 2016 by

I liked not speaking. It gave me peace. People ask if I spoke to myself, but why would I? I’d just have complained when I had no one to blame but myself

I stopped speaking on my 27th birthday in 1973, because I found myself arguing all the time. After witnessing an oil spill in San Francisco Bay in 1971, I gave up using motorised vehicles and started walking everywhere as a statement about pollution. I lived in a small village on the west coast of America, where I kept getting into debates about whether one person could make a difference. I would rant and rave about how everyone should do what I was doing.

I used words to hide from other people, and from myself. I made things up: if someone told me they were going on a trip to Europe, I’d pretend I was going, too; I guess I had low self-esteem. I decided not to speak for one day, as a kind of gift to my community. My girlfriend thought I was doing a nice thing. When I woke the next day, I didn’t see any reason to speak, so I didn’t. When others spoke to me, I mimed that I was being silent. They were thrilled.

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