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Hearing nothing but the sound of your breathing is a rarity. I know that the common thing to do here would be to sell silence to you as a tool. It’ll make your life better and you’ll reach self-actualization or something along those lines. But that sound bite is overdone. Not everyone finds the quiet moments as fulfilling as I do, and I recognize that. To some people, a lack of stimulation is absolutely maddening. It’s not even about being bored or some subconscious fear, certain people just aren’t wired to crave quiet time like others are, and I get that.
For me, though, quiet is a fundamental need that has to be met for me to keep functioning. I know that silence may not be a true necessity the way water is, but I still feel as if it I can’t live without it. It’s at least partly my introversion, but quiet time is also just good medicine for me. The quiet moments I get by myself are the moments when I fell the most grounded. The most connected to the world and the most alone. The safest and the most vulnerable. I need time to be quiet to figure out what all the rattling around inside of me means, and I’m sure other introverts feel the same.
Earlier today, I stepped outside on my front porch to let the cat out, and it was surprisingly quiet outside. I live in the middle of dozens of acres of farmland and wooded areas where small houses are lined up in little loops but still far apart compared to other neighborhoods. It’s not as loud as living in the city or even in a subdivision, but it’s never this silent. There’s so much wildlife around that the trees are always rustling, the water is moving down the drainage ditches and creeks, or the frogs are calling to each other. It’s common to think that nature is quiet, but it’s not, except on days like today. We had a cold front come through, so I think the drop in temperature made all the animals hunker down for a while, and when I stepped outside it was completely calm.
It was striking how silent my world was in that moment. So quiet that there’s no other way to describe it. I forgot that the world could get that still. I felt surrounded, but the world had been washed clean of noise. All I had was my sight, and with that focus of sensations, I felt a clarity. Not simplicity, but a clear focus.
As a writer, I’m always linking moments like this back to my work. Today, I thought about how stories don’t come from the quiet times in our life. Stories come from the overheard conversations, the arguments, the friendships – the moments when we interact with the world and exchange something within ourselves for something out there. Stories are not born in silence… but they do mature in the quiet moments when we are left with our thoughts and the sound of our breath. Without silence, there is no room for the seeds of the story to fully take root. We can learn, gather information, interact with the universe, but everyone, even an extrovert, needs a quiet moment for the experiences to sink in and take root in the story of our lives. I think I needed the reminder today of what true silence is, and I honestly think it can be the best medicine.
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Poet. Reader. Lifelong Student.