Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Quest for Quiet

In general, I'm a very quiet person. I don't like to talk a lot. I don't like to hear other people talk a lot. I abhor loud noises. I cringe every time the phone rings. I get pissed off when people honk their car horns (unless there's a very good reason!). For me, one of the greatest downfalls of cell phones and modern technology is that I have to hear other people's conversations. Which I could obviously care less about. I've even left stores when I was browsing because I wasn't able to browse in peace. It's such a shame. It seems that every time I enter someone else's home, there's a TV on. Even when no one is watching. I really can't stand it. I'm just not one of those people who needs constant background noise. So I don't understand the waste of energy.

It was only a few years ago that I couldn't bear the quiet. I was suffering from crippling post partum depression. Lucky for me, I got through it. It took the love of my family, some serious medication and lots of therapy. My therapist was simply divine and she saved me. Well, no, actually, I saved myself. But she did play a HUGE part. During one of our first sessions, she told me to make it a point to have quiet time on a regular basis. No TV, no phone, no heavy music, no one around to talk to me. I could read....but it had to be light and mindless (none of the non-fiction books dealing with societal issues that I would normally read). The first time I tried it, I thought I would lose my mind. I simply couldn't do it. Seriously, I probably lasted 30 seconds. I can't even explain how I felt....I only know that I immediately put on something, anything, to make noise. And when I relayed this to the divine therapist, I broke down and cried for a long time. Why was this? I was always a quiet person and this was way out of character. It took some time and a lot of soul searching but I finally realized that it was easy to cover up with noise. Each time my inner voice tried to speak up to tell me things in my life weren't as they should be, I covered it up. It was SO EASY to watch stupid reality TV and blast was a distraction from life's bigger questions and, honestly, something to talk to people about. No one ever has meaningful discussions anymore. It's all about American Idol (snooze), the last episode of Lost (who cares!), the latest fashion to buy (ahem) or some meaningless celebrity bullshit. There didn't seem to be a place in the world for a free little soul like me who didn't need all this and certainly wasn't fulfilled by it. Slowly, and often painfully, I came to terms with myself, my life, my choices. And, once again, I learned to crave the quiet. To lie on my back and revel in it.

No, I am not just sitting around thinking about this. I recently read a NY Times article by Dwight Garner -Meditations on noise. It's a book review on three different books that are coming out which all deal with noise. How it affects people, how the world is getting progressively louder, how we create noise even when we're being quiet. But I especially love the ending of the article when Dwight offers up this example: you find yourself driving and lost, what's your first move?, you usually snap off the radio to reorient yourself. "You find a way to become as silent as you can". While I was driving on my great life journey, I got lost, turned off my "life radio", and almost immediately reoriented myself. There is so much beauty in silence. If you can find it.

To-Read List:
Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book About Noise by Garret Keizer
Zero Decibels: The Quest for Absolute Silence by George Michelson Foy
In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise by George Prochnik


  1. Your quest for quiet, tranquility, serenity, harmony, peace in your daily life and existence is not only noble and fulfilling, but necessary and real in a world filled with self-imposed deadlines and forced schedules, perpetual noise pollution, consumerist distractions, banal banter, ignorant gossip, all promoted by a mindless and heartless media and a conditioned society. Many people have lost the ability to listen to themselves think or breathe and instead fill the “void” with distractions or suppress their inner voices in favor of the perception of normality as dictated by society. May your craving for quiet time be with you all the days of your life.

    You are real. You are human. You are a truly amazing person and a rare gem in this cacophonous world we have created.

  2. What a heartfelt post. You are so right, the lacking of silence is quieting so many bigger issues...most often the ones that are most important. I believe I dealt with some post-partom but I also dealt with extreme depression during high school after some traumatic events. As an adult, it comes and goes, and I feel I have a pretty good handle on it. Sometimes I feel like I could use some therapy or some drugs...still, but I take it day by day, and for now, say a lot of prayers. I think I try and divert my mind when I do get sad to things like The Little Things or uplifting books. My children bring a whole lotta love and happiness to my life, too, as I am sure your daughter does.

    Bravo. I applaud you for being brave and true to yourself. I think being in tune with all of our feelings--sad, depressed, lonely, happy...makes it all worth while. It's taking all of them and acknowledging their validity in our human experience that makes this life special.

    Take good care, Cassie

    P.S. Have you read Letters to a Young Poet by Rilke??

  3. Wow Cassie, thank YOU for being so real and personal. This is probably one of my favorite posts because it IS so personal and true to my experiences. I am not ashamed, by any means. And I wish more people spoke up and shared their experiences...then one wouldn't feel so ashamed (as I did) in the midst of depression, etc. That was the hardest thing I've ever been through but I'm still thankful because it's made me who I am today. And I'm so proud to have conquered it ~it made me feel stronger. Sorry you had to experience depression/traumatic events, but it sounds like you've made the most of it and learned from your experience as well. You know, I haven't read that book, although I've heard of it....but it's on my list now. Thanks ~ I'll take ANY book recommendations I can get!


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