Have you ever listened to silence?
I’m not talking about being quiet. Being quiet is something that you want little kids to do when they’re being naughty, or when they’re aggravating your headache. Being quiet is something you want the jackhammer outside your apartment window to be when you’re trying to study. Being quiet is what you want the party two doors down from you to do when you’re trying to get some sleep for your exam tomorrow. Listening to silence is not being quiet. No, listening to silence is a physical thing. You don’t shut your brain off while you’re listening. You are actively involved in listening to absolutely nothing.
This is a really strange concept for most Americans. We so often surround ourselves by noise. Even while I type this, I can hear my sister in her room, the television in my mother’s room, the music coming from my own computer. We are not accustomed to being without sound. We’re on sound overload, and we’ve forgotten what real silence actually is.
In my choir at school, we have this really interesting exercise where my director just tells us to close our eyes and not make sounds. We’re just supposed to listen. Sometimes it’s thirty seconds, sometimes it’s a minute. We close our eyes like dutiful students, take a collective breath, and then –
There’s silence. The hold-your-breath-and-don’t-move kind of silence. The kind of silence that makes your brain go, “Thank you, thank you!” The kind of silence that is just so still that no one disturbs it.
That is, until someone decides they aren’t comfortable and shifts around on the creaky risers. Or they cough. Or they sneeze. Or they take a drink of their water. Or they sigh. Or they scratch their head. Or they cross their legs. Or they tap their pencil on their black choir folder …
Do you see what I’m getting at now?
Silence is so rare in our culture. That’s why I’ve started driving to and from school in silence. I’m a commuter student, so I get a good 40 minutes a day of silence. I use this time to think about my day, to organize my thoughts, and to talk to God. Sometimes I’ll speak out loud, but mostly I use my personal thoughts and drive in silence.
Silence is needed for my sanity. If I didn’t have silence, I think I’d go absolutely crazy! That’s what I’m not a fan of huge parties or super loud music (other than the fact that too much noise gives me a massive headache). But there’s just something about silence that is a soothing balm on my day-weary brain.
I often lay in bed at night and listen to the sounds around me. Mostly, they are the tiny little sounds of my breathing, of my legs shifting under the sheets, and of a car or two driving past on the street. However, a majority of what I listen to isn’t sound at all. It’s silence. And it’s one of the most beautiful sounds ever. It’s that moment where everything seems to stand still. I love those moments. I feel like I’ve achieved something in those moments.
I challenge you this week to find some silence in your life. Find a place to get away from everything and open your ears. I promise that you won’t regret it.
Living beautifully, Sophie