I am listening to the sounds around me. I hear the droning of cars accelerating down the highway outside my windows four stories below. The ceiling fan is turning and the patterns of the churning of the air is comforting. The appliances are making their constant low humming sound. It is Friday and I am basking in the quiet of the late afternoon. It is not silent, which is different. It is quiet and calm and the motion of my breathing, feeling sapped from a long week, but energized by the weekend’s possibilities.
Being alone in the loft is being free with my thoughts and allows me to consider my words in my head and prepare them for sharing. I tend not to turn on music or television on days like this, but enjoy the solitude and restorative power of quiet. I look around at the afternooon light as it creeps through the blinds and creates patterns on the wood floors. This building’s history is deep in the floorboards. The hundreds of stitchers sitting in rows of sewing machines over so many years creating linens, then winter clothing ,and the memories in the eyelets and metal buttons and fixings that one can walk over, as they are literally imbeded in the wood beneath my feet. Imagining the men and women who spent their lives in this one place, year after year, and wondering if they got bored with their daily routine, or did they take comfort in the sounds around them and if Fridays for them was as cherished as it is for me, signifying the end of a work week and hopefully a job well done, or at least done well.
I feel the rhythm in the sounds around me and the cadence of the motion. It is somewhat like watching the ocean, with the repetitive flow of water back and forth, and the pull and the push. But this is what I am hearing and feeling just sitting and taking it in. I think about how the days accelerate and how it seems as though it was just last Friday and soon it will be Monday and it will all happen again. But actually it won’t, it will just continue, and just seem familiar because we follow routines, like the stitchers, day in, day out. Breath in, breath out.
Managing quiet is a thoughtful process and conscious effort to filter out the noise we fill our lives with. I choose to not talk on the phone or to open a book or newspaper or read emails. I choose to sit or lay on the couch with a cat on me and clear my head and let the week go. Breath in, breath out. There are many names for this, and others do something like I do, in groups or alone ,in yoga, or mindfulness or quiet reflection. It requires no equipment, or financial investment, just some commitment to yourself and awareness of what quiet represents.
Quiet takes some practice as it is so easy at times to distract yourself from just enjoying the sounds but not participating in them. I struggle to engage myself in the process because my nature is to be busy rather than to allow myself the often felt luxury of not doing and just relaxing. I’m getting better at it and often the catalyst is recognizing that time wasted is not time not used, but rather appreciating the minutes to recharge and reflect.