Growing up the last of four children, our house was never quiet. Between my mother, brother and two sisters, someone was always talking, yelling, watching tv, vacuuming, clanging dishes, revving up dirt bikes, singing along to the radio, running the dryer or doing anything and everything to be loud. It was a constant calamity of noise. And I loved it.
But as we get older, and the weight of the world seems to be placed on our shoulders, quiet becomes a hot commodity. We yearn for a quiet space, a quiet moment, a simple, quiet peace of mind.
As a writer, words are moving in a never-ending ebb and flow through my head. I’m always thinking of a better description or a better way to say the things I want to say. And more often than not, I talk too much. I feel a need to fill the silence with my own words and opinions because I’m just not comfortable with the quiet that others so desperately desire.
I am not even comfortable sleeping in the quiet. I need to have a loud fan or the t.v. on just to drown out the sound of my own breathing.
There were times when I was a young adult that I was able to get outside, in nature, and breathe in the “silence”. To just sit quietly, not thinking about anything but how wonderful it was to be there, and just be still. But even then, I couldn’t quiet my mind. And nature, as peaceful as it can be, is anything but “quiet”.
They say people have actually gone insane due to too much silence. The absence of noise can actually make you go crazy.
There is a room in Minneapolis that is on record as being the quietest place in the world. They’ve done studies to see exactly how the human body can handle the deafening silence. The longest anyone has ever lasted inside was 45 minutes, and a lot of people are begging to be let out at the end.
In that kind of silence, all you can hear is the sound of your own body. Your breath going in and out of your lungs, your organs churning, your blood pumping. Your mind actually starts hallucinating, mentally creating the sounds it is so accustomed to hearing. When you are the only sound you hear, it can be quite unsettling.
People have come out nauseous, their ability to stand up straight or walk compromised, so much so that they require you to sit while you are in the room.
They are not damaged for life though. Once they emerge from the room, into “normal life” they are fine. Changed from the experience I’m sure, but fine.
But it just goes to show you that some of the things we wish for every day, even something as simple as quiet, are not always good for us. Sometimes it’s in the chaos that we actually find peace.
So the next time you are walking down a busy street, or your neighbor is blaring loud obnoxious music, or you are holding your head as your kids shout “Mom” for the five hundredth time in an hour, I want you to smile. Smile because everything is right with the world. And as much as you feel life you might go crazy if you don’t get some peace and quiet, just think about if you actually got it.