They say silence is golden. While, like love, silence is impossible to quantify, perhaps, I think it’s probably worth more than gold by the ounce. I want a necklace of it so I can have it near me. Close enough to smell and resting on my heart. I want a sweater made of silence so I can wrap up in it and use it to deflect stresses and worries. I want a big ole heaping dollop of it right on top of my coffee and stirred into my meat. I want a perfume of silence so I can keep it in a bottle and dash it on my wrists and behind my ears. What would that scent be? Only I would know it’s there. I want a paint of silence to coat on my walls and all over my house. I will stain my porch with it. I want a fence of silence all the way around my yard and make it high so only birdsong gets over the top. I want a blanket of silence to cover me up at night, and I want a bathtub full of it, so I can just immerse myself until it cools. Silence is what I long for.
Do you ever just crave some quiet? It usually comes with solitude, because if we’re around other people there seems to be conversation felt necessary. Ah, to be able to sit near someone and breathe their air, and yet not feel the need to speak. That’s a little slice of heaven.
Turns out, it’s not just me who wants some quiet. In fact, it’s a need. Studies on the interwebnetsdotcoms from 2013 found that two hours of quiet time actually stimulated brain growth. Makes sense. I don’t feel like growing either when there’s so much noise that a retreat seems more likely.
Phones ringing, keyboards tapping, screens, computers, TVs, printers jamming, faxes sending, cell phone chirps, alarms, sirens, people, people, people, shoe squeaks, cars and trucks, blaring music, crying, dogs barking, doors slamming, horns and music and too much, too much, just too much….
The sweetest sound sometimes is silence. When the hum of the heater kicking on in the kitchen is only drum you feel. It’s true I miss the sounds of the boys when they are absent, but just the same, at least at this point, I do love the quiet, too.
We sacrifice, don’t we? Last night, the sweet night, when all is so quiet, I am brought to a jump by the dog barking and howling at God only knows what; the moon, other dogs perhaps? No matter because it definitely shattered my peace. It must be a true testament to how much I love this dog that he is still alive.
The World Health Organization has ruled that noise is a pollution and a modern plague. In fact, noise can contribute to heart problems. I reckon that makes sense, since it certainly stresses me out.
We all need time to unwind before bed. Even if the TV is on, don’t you want it a little quieter? Isn’t harsh to even speak in blaring, plain tones when the hour is small?
When it’s quiet, it’s easier to focus. Noise is distraction and it’s irksome. Trying to study or get anything cognitive accomplished is near to impossible. I read just this last week that the major enemy of the writer is interruptions. Ain’t that the truth?
There are better kinds of silences, though, than we sometimes know. We can be in a quiet room, the only sound a quiet rustle of a curtain or a distant chirping bird, but if you cannot silence your mind, it is just as loud. At times like that, I suppose some music would be preferable. When literal silence is not welcome, a silence of maddening thoughts might be less so.
Some folks have taken vows of silence. This would be harder for some of us than others, but I think it might also come as a welcome relief, not only for me but the ones who regularly have to listen to me. The point of a vow of silence is to make yourself more aware of your words and choose them more carefully. That sounds like a fairly good idea.
My mother used to repeat to me, “Least said, soonest mended.” The point there is the less you say, the sooner the argument will be over. I’ve generally been glad when I heeded her words and regretted it when I didn’t.
Silence is also necessary to listen. You never learned anything by talking. You can listen and hear when you’re still, whether it’s from another person or quiet time with God.
You know that the best thing about silence is to me? It just feels good. Like a balm for tired ears and a respite for a mouth and brain that are tired of responding.
If you see a silence blanket I’m talking about, let me know. I would pay good money. But if you text me, I might have my phone on silent. What a blessed, blessed button that is.
A teacher and mother, Meagan Morehead Bradshaw lives on a farm in Bland County; contact her at email@example.com.