Rarity of Quiet

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It starts at 6 a.m. with the alarms that wake us up.

Then the television goes on for the news, because so much has probably changed in the four or five hours that, maybe, I’ve been asleep. The coffee maker gurgles and burps in the background. The toaster pops and the skillet sizzles. The child groans and complains in an effort to resist getting out of bed, once she is up, fed, and Β dressed, Β I exchange a brief goodbye with my wife I open the door with a creak. I walk to the car, my daughter in front of me, shuffling her feet across the pavement.

The car rumbles to a start, the heater roars as it blows the still cold air through the vents. My daughter asks me to listen to the radio so I tap my phone to life and turn on the app to bring up her favorite station. Soon enough They Might Be Giants are singing an upbeat tune about the sunΒ and the car’s wheels roll down the driveway with a soft crackling sound.

The traffic of the morning rush is heavy and the other drivers whoosh past me in their vehicles. A semi thunders past, causing the SUV to rock slightly in its wake, and I can finally turn into traffic, the wheels barely miss traction and the tires let out a short squeal as I punch the accelerator. It doesn’t take but a few miles before one driver blares their horn at another for not quite hitting the gas fast enough when the light turns green.

Turning into the residential area that the school is in and the birds are chirping amid the thrum of cars riding over speed humps. The door of my Highlander opens when I stop in the traffic loop, children are laughing and chattering on the way to class, in the distance the bell chimes telling me we were running a little behind.

I arrive back at the house, greeted by the barking of the dogs. I retreat into the bed room to lie down, the whirring vibrations of the washer and dryer disturb my rest through the wall. I pretend to drift off, maybe I really do I can’t quite tell, reflecting on how most of this will be replayed in reverse when I come to pick the girl up from school later in the afternoon.

My evening is spent yelling to be heard over the clanking of pans, the rattle of plates being stacked and unstacked, and the calls of the other cooks; beyond it all is the incessant, maddening, rhythmic throb of the exhaust hood. Throughout the night I am bombarded with the empty chatter and inane, superficial questions of those around me, and who can not stand the thought of finding themselves with a moment to think. When the last dinner is served and things begin to die down the crew blasts their musical selection while we clean and close the kitchen, something electric and loud and grinding.

Finally at home, things are still. The dogs and child are asleep, my wife on the back porch listening to the computer through head phones. I sit and the click-clack of the keyboard is my companion for the remainder of my night. Finally I go to bed.

The silence rolls in. My mind wanders for a few moments, then I fall asleep.

It starts at 6 a.m with the alarms that wake us up.

Image cropped from Quiet Goes Noisy By Nicholas Noe CC BY-NC 2.0
This was written in response to a Weekly Challenge.
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91 thoughts on “Rarity of Quiet

  1. I prefer quiet. Most of the noise you mention, well written, is unavoidable in our daily world. However, ubiquitous television, canned music, reminds us quiet and contemplation are unacceptable in today’s society. Hogwash. Thank you for this post.

  2. I like this πŸ™‚ I like how there’s lots of long sentences that show how busy it is, like you don’t have time to stop long enough for a full stop.. Few edits I’ve stumbled across- ‘the still cold air the vents’ is missing a word, ’empty chatter and and inane’ has a double and.. Not meaning to be the grammar police, just know that when I write, I like things pointing out to me before too many people see it

  3. It is striking that the only silent place you can find is sleep, and maybe a bit of quiet at home. What does that say about modern life. Why do you think we have such a hard time with silence?

  4. The Mennonite church I just went to was quiet almost as often as not. I like those people. Amish are even quieter. I find a lot of silence in my life, although it seems to be getting rarer and rarer with time. Even my dad plays the radio in the bathroom. (weird lol)
    Wonder how much it messes with our heads to have that much stimulation…

    • I do love my electronic entertainments, well my computer mostly, so I am not to keen on losing power. When it does occur, you can be sure that we make plenty of noise keeping the six year old entertained. πŸ™‚

  5. I’ve done a post about the younger generation’s “connectedness”, and have one coming up about being surrounded by clocks and timepieces. I hadn’t thought about doing one about our constant immersion in sound. Nice treatment! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you. I look forward to your upcoming “Clocks” post. Would you mind sharing the title of your post about the younger generation’s “connectedness” so I can find it easier on your site?

      • Sorry, still frantically searching, even as you impatiently twiddle your thumbs. I began by publishing sequentially, from a Word file, but soon began picking and choosing posts. Two adjacent drafts might get published six months apart, and I don’t remember what smart-ass title I put on it. I thought I had it with “Out of Touch,” but that was just a dead landline, and a “bricked” Kobo. I’ve eliminated 200 of 300 drafts. If/when I find it, I’ll comment, and link it. “What Time Is It Now?” should be up in about a month. 😦

  6. Love this post. Powerful imagery. I think about silence (and the lack thereof) on a daily basis, and your post resonates with me.

    Um, no pun intended. Seriously. Food for thought… thanks for writing this.

  7. Sometimes I think our culture makes the mistake of equating noise with industry and equating silence with inactivity. Sometimes someone will walk into the library and say “It’s so quiet in here” as if nothing’s happened in the building all day. First off, it’s a library, so it’s supposed to be quiet. Adding to the irony is the fact that, nine times in ten, this statement comes in the brief calm following a rush of check-ins and check-outs. All our “quiet” moments are spent putting things away, making copies, designing print materials, entering new items, and meticulously organizing the materials. So yes, quiet is not lazy, and there are many times when it is necessary for both work and leisure.

    • Yes we as a society have bought fully into the “sound of progress” idea, and there is some truth to the notion that noise is required for industry and culture to advance. As for it being too quiet in the library…

      How did they notice with those headphones on?

  8. You capture the day very well and for me it seems all too familiar. In fact, I’m sure Ive had more than one day exactly as you’ve described.. I too have worked in the food and beverage/ service industry for many years and know the routine. Congrats on being Freshly pressed. I enjoyed this.

  9. Like your tone in this piece. It’s neither negative nor positive yet not quite neutral. That said just reading it made me weary and felt the drudgery of the repetition in life. Sigh. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

      • You think so? Isn’t it being typical mean that it happens most of the time? I guess for me the thought of having it most of the time is a bit…….disappointing I guess. Though by no means is my life super exciting most of the time lol

        • Typical can mean most of the time, or ordinary. Fortunately there are always those few exceptional days. They can be exceptionally quiet which is fine and relaxing. They can also be exceptionally busy and noisy and fun. Both are valuable.

  10. Well observed and well written – thank you! I have found my quiet – early weekend mornings strolling through the neighbourhood. My neighbours tend to hibernate until late on the weekends which means a morning stroll through the empty streets and I can be the only one making noise. Pure bliss.

  11. Awesome description of a typical day of our lives πŸ™‚
    I am also sick and tired of my noisy life, I would like to live at the country side… well, there is some noise too, but much more pleasant πŸ™‚ But I am stuck to my engineering job in a more and more crowded city… that’s life, let’s enjoy it while we still have it :))

  12. It’s so true: the world is so noisey. I’m alone in my bedroom at the far end of the house right now, but it’s not exactly quiet. I’ve got my fish tank filter buzzing and the keys on my keyboard clacking (admittedly my own fault), and the sound of cars going by on the street outside, and my mother doing things at the other end of the hall. I think the only time I’ve encountered something close to complete silence is when I’ve been awake at 4:00 in the morning with insomnia, which isn’t exactly pleasant.

  13. I really enjoyed this post. You simply point out something we all deal with daily but many have become immune to. There is always noise in our lives and for some odd reason silence has become uncomfortable. I believe it’s because in the silence we must face our thoughts and many times those thoughts are not happy and positive so it’s just easier to fill our heads with noise and avoid confronting our thoughts all together. I know I’m guilty of doing just that! I do remember though as a child how much I loved the sound (or lack there of) of a freshly fallen snowfall and the peace that accompanied the quiet stillness. Those were the times when the silence was okay because the thoughts I faced in that silence were far less complicated than the adult thoughts of today. Thanks for sharing your gift.

  14. Gah! And even when it’s quite, the mind just keeps on making noise…
    Rare is the moment we find true silence.

    Thanks for the read and the vivid descriptions! =)

  15. I have lived in big cities for so much of my life that I feel I can’t go to sleep unless there are cars going by every minute. Now I’m a college student in Washington DC, and the day isn’t complete without sirens and my next door neighbors throwing a party. So when I go home I have to turn on the TV just to get some shut eye. I appreciate someone finally noticing it, thanks for the lovely article.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read it. Washington D.C. has be a particularly noisy city to boot, fortunately I have reached a time and location of my life that I seldom have to worry about the neighbors throwing parties anymore. Although I do live unforgivably near a major road. Good luck in your studies.

  16. Reblogged this on Beneath the Lamp Post and commented:

    This piece makes me want to sit and wonder at how often if ever do we have turkey quiet moments in our day to day lives. Even during my quiet time or studying I tend to listen to music. Maybe this is why those few moments of absolute stillness you snag just before bed or after your alarm goes off (but before you get up) feel so precious .

  17. Ahhh, quiet. Although the gurgle of the coffeepot is a pleasant sound. Great post, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed

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