Silence: Golden?

Quest for quiet.

Posted Nov 28, 2017

Quiet. Ahh, quiet. The allure of being in quiet, even silent, places has been getting a lot of attention lately in the popular press and around water coolers.

Quiet’s recent popularity began well before this year’s holiday houseguests were even invited, well in advance of them overstaying their invitations. The current drive to quiet seems to be a response, at least in part, to the continually increasing bustle and contentiousness of our world.

Being in a space that’s quiet is a luxury, one that’s delivered to people with the key to their suite in an upscale hotel, for example. Time in a quiet space probably means we have some control over our environment and when we have enough control to anticipate what sorts of sights and sounds we’ll experience in a space, we’re comfortable. Really comfortable.     

Quiet is what we experience on lovely forest walks and when strolling along the shore at our favorite beach. Quiet gives us the opportunity to mull over our lives, and make sense of them, without interruption, as well as to ponder, problem solve, and simply think, inside and outside the box. In a quiet space, the soundscape is not distracting, it’s gently soothing. But quiet is not silence.

True silence is nearly impossible to achieve, and when we get close to acoustic silence, we get tense. In quiet places, we generally are hearing sounds that don’t demand our attention but keep us from feeling that we’re in a sensory void. For those of us who can hear, having nearly nothing going on acoustically makes it more likely that our minds will dwell on our worries and concerns. We fret about whether the stove is on, if the funny smell in the basement might be a gas leak, and if we'll ever find our true love or dream job.

So indulge in the luxury of quiet when you can. Spend some time in nature or driving down a country road without the car radio on—whatever works for you and your life. Be happy and content with quiet, however don’t quest for silence. It’s not golden.