This past weekend my husband and I went to a local wine bar that has installed a small outdoor seating area for a party of two.
The bar has a stringent cleaning protocol, and so I feel confident enjoying an evening out in their space.
It was good to get away from my house, where I spend most of my time these days. One thing I noticed about the special seating was how quiet it was. Normally, the wine bar is packed and full of conversation and laughter. This last weekend, it was just the voice of my husband I could hear.
These days are so quiet that I have become a connoisseur of silence.
Traffic is much lighter since COVID-19 hit. My daily walks are far quieter for this reason. An occasional car or truck passes, but then there are stretches of silence. Interrupting this lack of sound will be the aching coo of a mourning dove from a fir tree. Sometimes a stellar jay will whoop it up, performing its best imitation of a red-tailed hawk.
Mostly, I am left to my playlists and thoughts.
For those of us who can work and study from home during the COVID-19 crisis, we have opportunities to quiet the din of daily life and listen to what is beneath it. This attention to silence has made me more sensitive to noises.
I listen to the television quieter.
I listen to the words of my family more carefully.
I have discovered I enjoy the silence and appreciate the clarity it has created in my thinking—thanks to the absence of the sounds of busyness.
Our lives get noisy at times. Work, socializing, and activities can overschedule our time and overrun our lives.
When I look back at my schedule from 2019, I have no idea how I kept up that level of activity. Yet, I recall the energy seemed to create more energy, and there was a flow. I found time to rest, vacation, and recuperate.
But I also remember feeling so tired some days that I didn’t know how I would get through dinner. When life returns to normal, I will look back wistfully at the long hours of quiet in 2020-21.
Perhaps the greatest blessing during the pandemic—if there can be one—is the quiet, the lack of stimuli, the emptiness that allows us to feel the fullness of our internal lives.
Though I will be one of the first people to attend events and activities again, I won’t forget this time. I will likely continue to seek it, never again taking silence for granted.