chair-517040_1280The last three days I’ve had no voice, thanks to some awful virus that’s hit our household. It’s strange to be forced to be quiet for so long. I can’t call anyone to come, can’t yell to stop behaviour I don’t like; can’t even ask anyone to help me.

This morning a bunch of noisy council workers came to cut the trees around the power lines. Big trucks and loud machines on top of not feeling well made me groan. But they’ve finished and gone away now, and it’s deathly quiet.

Silence is a strange thing to listen to.

There’s a bird just outside my window, doing some quiet singing. Shhh! Against the distant hum of trucks in another street, it’s simply repeating its song.

We live in a world pumped on busyness and noise. It’s almost like we can’t be still and quiet any more. I have a beautiful back deck I almost never sit on unless I’m entertaining. When I get in my car I reach for the radio, music or my phone.  People on their walks pass me plugged in to an electronic device. I’m lucky to get a nod, unless one of us happens to have a pet on leash.

When did noisyness become a good thing? Or being constantly busy? What is it we don’t like about the quiet that makes us want to fill our days with well, white noise?

In my mind, quiet is associated with slowing down, nature, and becoming aware of your smallness. If you want to de-stress, connecting with quiet is an excellent idea. Going for a walk at lunchtime to sit in a park (no matter how small the space and how surrounded by suburbia!) has always been a good relaxant for me. I just need a bit of peace and quiet, the saying goes. Funny how they link together. Quiet. And peace.

Here’s an exercise to try. It will take you ten minutes at most. Find yourself a place that’s safe but outside and sit yourself comfortably. Now remove all the electronic distractions by turning them down or off. Next,shut your eyes and listen. Take note of all the different noises you can hear. At first it will be the traffic and machinery and other man made stuff. Keep listening. After a while you may hear a bird, or the wind, or the sound of a roof as it creaks in the heat. Whenever you get distracted, bring yourself back to listening to the noises again. Don’t try and make anything meaningful from the experience, just use your ears to hear the quiet things. If you’re anything like me you may even hear yourself sighing! After about five minutes, stop.

Quieting down and listening has its value as a balance against all the loud living we do. It’s probably no better to be perpetually silent than to be always noisy – the value’s in appreciating each. I’m certainly looking forward to getting my voice back sometime soon! But in the meantime, go and listen to the silence. It’s good for us all.