Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thoughts on Silence

I was raised to be quiet. My father often said "children should be seen and not heard" when things got unruly amongst my brothers and myself. In the car, we played the "quiet game," a contest to see who could go the longest without talking, and mom frequently requested her "peace and quiet." It's not that surprising that as an adult, I can't stand excessive noise. I prefer soft music, won't turn on the television for "background," and I hate it when there's a child demanding the audio attention of everyone with a screaming ear shot.

This past weekend I had a friend over who is mom of three. She commented to me about how it quiet it is here; that she is used to the constant chatter of her boys and rarely hears herself breathe. Until that conversation yesterday, it hadn't occurred to me that I have been taking my silence for granted. I'm used to hearing my breath, the swish sound a tissue makes when you pull it from the box, and now, the sounds of my fingers clicking on the keyboard. I can even hear the dog breathing as he naps at my feet.

The only real noise I have to cope with is that of my own thoughts. My brain is constantly rattling with what I'm doing now or what I'm about to do or what needs to be done (in T'ai Chi, we refer to this as our monkey brains). Sometimes my mind is so loud ideas sneak by with barely an acknowledgement and have no opportunity to see the light of day. On occasion, they get snagged like a lobster in a trap, and become something, like a blog entry or new meal or a flower garden. In dealing with my noisy mind, I have learned to do things (such as T'ai Chi or a long run without thumping music) to clear out the chatter and invite in the ideas. Those activities tend to wipe my mind clean like a black board, giving space for ideas to come forward and grow. It is usually shortly after these activities that I am able to write or begin a project, as my mind is free of the traffic jam of thoughts everyday life insists upon.

My friend's observation of my silence helped me appreciate it and the fact that I am able to control most of the noise in my home environment. The only racket I have to deal with is by my own personal choice, and I feel lucky to have life where that is possible.

1 comment:

  1. I love quite myself and have really come to enjoy it more the older i get. maybe i think more before i speak because it bothers me when others don't afford the world the absence of their useless mind wonderings that i am trying to avoid. and maybe i think when some people just constantly are talking they cant be saying anything that important that often. So i'm gonna work on saying more with less and really picking my words carefully to express my thoughts not just fill up air with rambilings.