It is pretty strange how my happiest memory revolves around two of the most potent tools on opposite ends of the spectrum: words and silence. I grew up hearing that “pen is mightier than the sword,” but I also grew up hearing that “silence speaks louder than words,” and it was only last year that I realized the weight of these phrases.
I spent the entire first half of 2021 working on my Master’s thesis, stuck in a grueling cycle of finishing the last leg of my course, considering dropping out, and reminding myself to keep pushing forward. Spending six months tiring myself to the bone to submit twenty-thousand words was worth it, though, when I realized every word in the document was a product of my hard work, determination, thoughts, and drive. I thought ending that chapter of my life would be one of the happiest, if not the happiest, moments of my life, but I was mistaken; the happiest moment of my life was yet to arrive.
Instead of celebrating this milestone with my friends or family, the first thing I did after wrapping up was stand on my balcony and breathe. I stood there for some time, watching the sky turn orange, purple, and black, illuminated by the stars covering it like a blanket. I live in a city that never sleeps, but in that moment, everything was silent — the city, the sky, the birds, the wind, my thoughts — the world stood still. There was something very haunting yet calming about breathing in silence after breathing in, out, and around words for months on end.
Looking up at the vast sky did not feel intimidating. The sky, stretching endlessly, did not seem so big, and I, on the ground, did not feel small; I felt as though we were on the same platform. It was quite surreal to experience my mind running at the speed of an Olympian, slowing down and becoming a semicolon – neither stopping nor pausing but taking a short rest. At that moment, I was at my happiest. At that moment, I felt the most at peace.
Happiness comes in various forms. The state of being happy is subjective – it can be loud, quiet, bright, dim, smiling, or tearing up. Happiness can be making new memories, and it can also be letting go of memories. For me, happiness was silence. For me, happiness was silently closing a chapter of my life, breathing, and silently penning down the outline of the next. My happiest moment didn’t arrive when I thought it would. It crept up on me when I least expected to feel content, calm, and euphoric.
Words have always guided me. I have crossed oceans, felt my veins pump up with adrenaline, and navigated the world with words. Words speak of you, and words speak for you. Words can make and break you. Yet, in that moment, as I stood on my balcony, silence spoke louder than words, and I was at my happiest.