Saturdays are pretty busy for me. Since I work Monday through Friday and go to church most of the day on Sunday, Saturdays are for cleaning and errands. This past Saturday, my two youngest kids got some time away from home for five hours.
Almost as soon as they left our apartment, I noticed something profound. It was quiet–very quiet. Instead of going about my to-do-list, I just sat and soaked up the silence.
After a few minutes, I figured I should be productive and take advantage of this kid-free time while I could. So, I folded and put away the laundry in silence. I tidied up the apartment in silence. I drove around town running all my errands in silence (in my car at least). It was marvelous.
My Noisy Years
When I was younger, I didn’t like the silence. I would always have a radio or the TV playing in the background, especially if I was home alone. It kept me company. Occasionally, I would sing and dance to the music, but mostly it was just noise.
I don’t recall exactly when this “transition to silence” happened, but it must have been about five years ago when I became a single mom; what a coincidence! At first, I would drive to work and back in silence instead of listening to the radio like I usually did since it was the only time I could control the noise level in my world. Now, I seek out silence whenever I get the chance.
All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone. –Blaise Pascal
Some people like to drown out silence. There are various reasons for this. I will attempt to explore a few from my own experiences.
Silence Can be Lonely
Before, I used noise to keep me company when I was alone. To me, the chatter of the TV or music of the radio was a welcome change from the deafening quiet of an empty house. It also gave my brain something to listen to besides my own thoughts.
This is precisely the reason why silence can be lonely. It reminds you that you are alone. Whether you’re friendless or just alone for part of the day, having no one around to share your time with can make you feel isolated and lonesome.
Silence Can be Scary
Some people have a very real fear of being alone. I sometimes have a fear that something bad will happen to me when I’m alone and there won’t be anybody to call for help. This fear is pretty irrational for me since I’m healthy and relatively young, but anything can happen.
Others have negative thoughts that run rampant during silence. I used to be one of these unfortunate people, and I still struggle with it from time to time. One of the worst things I have experienced is an anxiety attack when I was alone. In these times, it is good to try and call somebody if possible.
Silence Can be Uncomfortable
Sometimes, we don’t quite know why, but silence just makes us uncomfortable. Perhaps because it’s just different than our norm. We are used to being bombarded by noise to the point we don’t even think about it until we find ourselves sitting in silence one day, and it’s unnerving.
In this circumstance, like anything new in life, silence may just take some getting used to. Start by sitting quietly for just five minutes and work up from there. Or try driving in silence instead of listening to the radio. That is usually my favorite time to pray or just “veg out”.
Silence Can be Wonderful
After you’ve become accustomed to it, silence can be wonderful! It gives your brain (and ears) a break from all the noise we are exposed to on a daily basis. It brings peace and balance to our hectic schedules. Silence has also been shown to do amazing things such as lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, decrease cortisol (stress hormone), and aid in learning!
I’m so glad I have finally learned to sit and be quiet every so often. I wish my children would practice with me from time to time!