I like noise. I am comforted by noise. I grew up on a busy street where traffic lulled me to sleep. This made slumber a dream perched above a New York City bus stop as I was in seminary. In noise, I know that I’m not alone. I know that there are others around me. I know that there’s nothing to fear. Of course, I know that there are countless others who find the exact opposite to be true.
Still, this is where I begin. When the prompt arrived to consider silence, I wonder about its opposite. I recall the screech of subway trains. I hear yelling. I discern individual voices. I let the noise grow louder until I can focus on those noises around me. The tapping of the keys. The buzz of air conditioning. The chirp of a cricket. These are noises too. They are sounds that I can hear clearly when I pause long enough to notice the gentle sound of my own breath.
When I consider silence, I realize how rare it is. It’s rare in my own life — even as I spend my evening painting in my studio. I am alone. I am present. I am aware of my own thoughts. But, it is not silent. The music is playing. Loudly. I wonder if it bothers my neighbors. I can’t imagine that anyone would object to the sweet sounds of Sweet Honey in the Rock — but I also know that there are certain sounds that soothe each of our souls. Differently. Uniquely. Of course, this wasn’t the question. The question posed in the email buried in my inbox was:
In what ways do you experience silence as a presence and fullness in your life rather than the mere absence of noise?
I don’t know. I’ll have to think about that some more. In silence.