The Noise Between the Quiet


For about a minute and a half today, in the middle of this crisp, sunny day, I experienced virtual silence. It began as I noticed the sound of the battery operated wall clock ticking by the seconds, and suddenly all other noise came to an abrupt halt. There was no traffic noise from the nearby highway, no noise from the wind blowing, no airplane noise, no noise from the heating unit in the house, no cell phone calls or alerts from text or email messages, no noise from my computer’s internal cooling fan, no noise from the name tags on my dog as he lay still, sleeping just outside my office. The only sound came from the wall clock. I listened, anticipating the interruption of neighbors or cars or wind or birds or barking dogs; but not a sound emerged. I felt as if the ticks of the clock were grabbing me, forcing me to listen to the surrounding silence. “Here, hear…that nothing but my second hand is calling to you. Here, hear…nothing needs your attention now. Here, hear…nothing is as important as this moment. Here, listen, now. Here, right, now.”

My breathing slowed and deepened. Calm fell to my face. My brow relaxed. My cheeks relaxed. My eyes relaxed and closed, then opened again to witness the still scene in the quiet moment. Worries ceased. Thoughts floated away.

The extraordinary quiet gave way to amazement at how loud daily life is, and how accustomed to it we become, so that in witness of such extreme quiet, we react with slight panic. What is wrong? What is about to happen? Is this the calm before the storm?

I heard a truck on the highway, and my cell phone alerted me to a new text message. The dog stirred in the hallway, clinking the name tags on his collar. My computer fan began to whir, and a new email message arrived with an audible notification. The silence was gone, for now.

Having been the recipient of such an extraordinary gift, I will now listen for these moments. I will manifest this quiet and reap the rewards of calm and peace. There is no storm after the calm. There is nothing wrong. There is only noise, between the moments of quiet.

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