It was quiet. Otherworldly quiet this afternoon when son #3 (the only one at home) and I took a walk. I posited that the normal car noise pollution was cut enough to let us actually hear ourselves think as we wandered the neighborhood, dog on leash, food in bellies, and crisp air on our noses.
Some holidays create this preternatural silence: Christmas Eve, Easter morning, and Thanksgiving afternoon. Neighborhoods usually bustling with yard games, parents shuttling kids to sports, teens heading off to work or out with friends slow down. These activties are muffled in the weight of certain holidays.
It was nice, this silence. We chatted in breathy tones, as if to talk out loud would upset the natural order. We listened to our footsteps. Son even scolded the couple of cars that had the temerity to speed past. We needed silence. Quietude.
Every day these past few months have brought screaming news stories of partisan outrage, social horror, and politics as anything but usual. Don’t get me wrong – the outrage is warranted; the horror is real; and I don’t even know where politics begin and reality TV begins anymore. But, we have had a dearth of quiet – and we need that quiet.
We need to find space and time to calm our own minds and souls. We can’t fight every moment. We can’t read comments every waking minute. It’s a horrible cycle to get stuck in. Read – discuss – rage – comment – fret – fume – read more. And then someone fabulous seems to die.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty wrong with the world and how things are going. And, if we are to live in this world, I think we have an obligation to be informed about it and make a difference where and when we can. However, I also know that we can’t stay stuck in fight-or-flight mode continually. A counselor once told me is that staying stuck in that fight-or-flight mindset has devastating physical and psychological effects on people. We have to find times and spaces to disengage from whatever is creating that conundrum.
We need silence. Unplug. Stay inside. Turn off. Go outside. Listen to nothing. Hear the beating of your heart. Lay on the couch. Feel the whoosh of blood in your veins. Sit on the porch. Stretch the creaks in your joints. Feel. Breathe. Just be.
It’s likely been an eventful year for you. Possibly a rough year. Maybe a devastating year.
Don’t forget that silence is always available; we need only to welcome it.