“The loudest noise in the world is silence.” – Thelonious Monk
It was a 6:00am flight. That meant getting up at 3:30am, driving to the airport, returning the rental car, taking a shuttle bus to the terminal, and then experiencing the joys of security. The cup of coffee made in the hotel room provided enough of a jolt to get me to the gate, but its effects had worn off.
While boarding the plane, I stopped at the entrance to allow the flight attendant to hang up a jacket. She thanked me, and said that I now got to make a decision for the entire plane – should she turn on the boarding music or not?
“Not. There’s no need for any extra noise this early in the morning.”
She smiled. I found my seat, put my bag in the overhead, and closed my eyes. Listening to the silence.
Silence. So hard to find in our hyper-connected world. Like any resource, the scarcer it is – the harder we need to search for it. The more value it has in our lives.
It’s important when we’re alone to seek out places and moments where we can be surrounded by quiet. No videos, no music, no phones, no headphones. Sitting still. Becoming aware of our environment. Then letting the background sounds – traffic, birds, wind – slip away. All we hear are our thoughts.
Some thoughts immediately become louder than others. Deadlines, unanswered voicemails, overflowing emails. We push those thoughts to the side. Depending on the day, we don’t know what may fill the void. It may be an old anxiety or fear. Or perhaps the voice of love and support.
We should also practice being silent with others – especially those we’re closest to – partners, lovers, spouses. Discovering that when we allow the quiet to grow, we shrink the distance between us. The less we say, the closer we become.
Symphonies and poems and rock anthems move and inspire us. The chatter of birds or kids playing brings a smile to our face. The words spoken by the voice we love touches our heart.
And silence replenishes our spirit.