If you are lucky enough to live somewhere that has experienced the first snowfall of the season, you have heard the hush. In towns and cities small and large, a snowfall of any measure muffles sound through physics and through awe. Stepping outside to the sight of a freshly painted world, we are reverent, quiet, stirred. During the next few weeks, a season filled with candlelight, greenery, and religion, I am in pursuit of such silence.
I like sound. I make sound. But there are moments when the most beautiful sound is silence. My day has a soundtrack, similar to yours no doubt. Where NPR leaves off, my iPod picks up. I’ve been told I sing rather audibly in the park, but I deny it. I talk enough to be considered an ambient noise machine, and even have been known to take a call in public. I can’t bring myself to carry-on a phone conversation on the street however as it seems to conjure my pushcart peddling ancestors (and I think it would break their hearts.) But I do my best to contribute to the cacophony of the city street.
However, there are times when silence is its own stirring background noise.
There was a time when just stepping into a religious sanctuary rendered one silent. I suppose there are still places of worship that generate such reverie. A recent holiday service I attended inspired the women seated behind me to discuss the merits of DSW, the best subway route to DSW, the return policy of DSW, and each shoe in DSW. Their crass incessant shopping chatter took a brief hiatus during the silent prayer. During that portion they discussed an “obnoxious” mutual friend. I shudder to consider what these women deem “obnoxious.”
Clearly “place” is not sufficient enough a prompt for silence.
Theaters are filled with shopping bag crinkly, slurping, chomping, talking, ringing audiences. Ticket purchasers talk through the overture. The overture! (No wonder no one writes those anymore.) At a recent Joan Crawford estate auction, people spoke loudly, as the lovely auctioneer toiled. She kept track of live bids, internet bids and phone bids, all over a deafening din. Once the Golden Globe went on the block though, well that was a horse of a different color. As the bids climbed well north of $20,000, you could have heard a pin drop. I suppose we are all entitled to worship any deity we choose.
I would suggest that we consider each other and the world we live in to be ample reason to hush. Not permanently, not even for long stretches of time. But for the next few weeks, let us be mindful of the noise we make. Pausing the soundtrack of our lives for a moment, will allow us to make discoveries. A sight, a sound or a thought will prompt a moment of awe. This time of year, as we prepare to look forward and make grandiose plans for our new and improved selves, let us take a moment to quietly consider the world around us and our place in it.