Something that a lot of people seem to sell short is the occasional need for good ol’ peace and quiet. And this can be an extremely difficult thing to obtain, especially in modern society. I recognized this issue last summer, when I was sitting outside in my garage on a warm, sunny day. Some birds were chirping, a light breeze was making the beaches of nearby trees sway and I was peacefully puffing away on a cigar (Yes, yes, I know! Bad habit! One problem at a time, people!)
As I settled into my moment of serenity, I began to notice an audible hum in the air. It was almost unnoticeable at first, like something fleeting at the very edge of my hearing. I slipped into a light meditative state and allowed myself to open up to what I was hearing. I came to realize that among the chirping birds and summer breeze was the background noise of hundreds of cars on the highway about a kilometre away, the rumble of a passenger plane passing overhead and various sounds of society and industry.
It took away some of the magic of my afternoon, especially since once I recognized it was there, I couldn’t “I hear” it. We live in a pretty quiet, suburban neighbourhood of our city and I usually pride myself on being able to get the aforementioned peace and quiet during the warmer seasons by sitting outside. But this post isn’t about noisy neighbourhoods, it’s about the need for quiet as a part of your life.
Surprisingly, many people are uncomfortable with the quiet, preferring a constant barrage of background noise and something to fill the auditory void, whether they’re watching television, reading a book or even trying to sleep. I, myself, use some white noise or Netflix to fall asleep at night. Although the white noise is perfectly fine and in some cases recommended, using a lit screen with a streaming service isn’t the best for a variety of reasons, but that’s one for another post.
The point is, occasional quiet is a good thing. It allows you to simply BE with yourself, something not a lot of people indulge in. The person who should you best is you and without being alone with your thoughts, it’s pretty hard to take that particular step of self-discovery. But even if you’re comfortable being alone with your thoughts, modern life doesn’t always allow for it. After all, as I always say, life doesn’t care about one’s plan…
I noticed how badly I missed having periods of silence when my wife and I recently put the baby down for a nap and our oldest was in the basement entertaining himself. The tv was off, she was reading a book and I was searching for something online through my phone. At some point, I realized that my breathing had slowed, I felt calm and the house seemed peaceful. I commented about it to my wife and I recognized that this is the kind of benefit that silence can bring.
There are some who may argue that once you are adept at meditation that you can do it anywhere, regardless of the distractions. While this is an arguable point (try properly meditating while your 7-year old is running circles around and screaming), some quiet will make it easier for you to do most things. Meditation will be easier, practicing karate is easier and simply letting your head cool while you contemplate the matters of the day will be easier.
Whether you enjoy the quiet or not, don’t sell it short. It can provide unspoken mental and physical health benefits and make the rigours of the day easier to get through. And if you’re in a situation where finding a moment of silence is difficult, there are ways you can still get a moment, whether it involves taking a drive to grab coffee or even staying up a bit later so you can have some quite time once the kids are asleep. Trust me, peace and quiet can be worth the effort. ☯️