This past weekend, Jared and I stayed in a tiny home in the woods for two nights. It was a cozy, cabin-like place, tucked away in the trees. The air was so still, so quiet, and so dense with life and nourishment. During the day, squirrels would prance along the branches of trees, their leaves swaying in the wind and trickling down, and at night the crickets would come alive, singing against the darkness. Breeze would hum against the forest floor, lingering for a bit and creating such a sweet, soft sound, before dissipating and leaving nothing but that calming silence once more. We even saw a deer, trotting beyond the trees!
Upon arriving, Jared and I felt a little bored. How silly is that? We were immersed in such a beautiful, quiet place and yet as we unpacked our things, I could sense a buzzing energy from each of us. I remember asking him, “What now?” when we were settled in, and him replying, “I’m not sure.” It was unnerving--having absolutely nothing to do for two days. Having no plans, no urgency to get anything done, since we had completed our homework before arriving.
I forgot to mention: We didn’t have our phones on us. Well, we did, but we locked them away in a box, and checked on them occasionally to make sure our parents weren’t worried sick, or something back home had gone wrong. Otherwise, we had no technology, either.
Eventually, we got into the hang of things. That night, we cooked some burgers outside, watching the fire dance within the crisp air, the crickets slowly emerging from slumber all around. And the next day, I read and read and read, devouring an entire book in a single sitting. Sometimes, I’d set it down to make some more coffee, or just stare out the window as rain droplets sprinkled down from time to time. Jared, on the other hand, took photos of the nature around us, something he hasn’t done in a while. Him, a photographer, me a reader and a writer, felt completely at home, doing the things we loved in place of mindless distraction.
While our trip was incredibly romantic, and we left our tiny home feeling more connected than ever before, this trip was also vital for my relationship with myself. I realized the importance of silence, and also, what I truly wanted to do. When I was sitting in stillness, my desires seeped up from down below, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. Although this want changes and molds each morning still, as all my wants do, I had a clear idea, for once in some time, of where I wanted to go.
When we are surrounded by chaos, by the general noise of life, our desires, and even ourselves become buried deep down. But in silence, without distractions, we can truly listen to ourselves. We can listen to the story ideas that burn alive in our minds, and we can listen to how our body sings with joy when surrounded by nature, not apartment buildings and highways. And we can follow these feelings. Or, if we don’t experience calls and ideas, we can lean into what we want now, in this moment, as I did with reading. I remember, Jared had asked if I wanted to join him outside and take a walk, and while I wanted to, I also knew that I wanted to continue reading more, so I told him that, honestly. And he smiled, excited to see me in my element, which is what he called it, and we decided that we’d go on a walk at sunset.
When I got back from my trip, I felt so unhappy. At work, I stared at my computer for about thirty minutes, probably more, resenting it. Resenting the open word document. I couldn’t even listen to my music, as it was too much noise. My eyes felt strained, and all I wanted to do was return to my little tiny house and stay there forever.
In the moment, I didn’t realize that this was a blessing in disguise, as I know understood my love for nature, but I also understood that we must carve out silence in our daily lives.
When I got home from work, I sat in stillness for quite some time, soaking up the surrounding noise and feeling at peace once again.
While life is busy, and the world can be chaotic, especially in these current times, when we remember the importance of silence and what it can do for our health, we can see just how necessary it is. Just think about it: How often are you not on your phone, or on your computer, or even reading? How often do you sit, and listen, and return to yourself? Because for me, I realized that I hardly ever allow my mind some rest, unless I’m asleep.
Incorporating silence can be different for everyone. I’ve started by turning off music during the day, making my bed in silence, showering in silence, allowing my thoughts to flow freely and allowing them to be my entertainment. I like to just sit in silence too, look around my room and observe what I see. Also, meditation is great if everything else is too difficult.
By just incorporating silence into each day, I feel much more at peace with myself. In fact, I went from majoring in Psychology and minoring in Journalism to now officially double-majoring in Psychology and English with an emphasis in creative writing. (Don’t worry, I have just enough hours remaining so that this extra major fits in perfectly.) At last, I feel on the right path. All because I finally listened to what I really wanted.
I hope this post inspired you to make space for quiet in this noisy world. And I hope, by doing so, you are able to return to any values and desires that were tucked away, long ago.