By Bruce Stambaugh
We live in a frazzled world, full of hustle and bustle and lots of noise. Even in the country, the noise of a busy world drowns out the normal peace and quiet.
Of course there are people that seem to prefer noise. They’re the ones that can’t stand a natural lull in a conversation, or dead silence in a room full of people, so they feel obliged to fill the air with idle chitchat. They’re happy as long as someone is talking, even if it’s them.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been a bit long winded at times myself. But having lived in rural America all these years, I’ll take peace and quiet every time.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I enjoy music, though I’m no musician. I enjoy cheering for my favorite sports teams. I enjoy lively table talk, especially around a meal.
But age has a way of shushing you, quietly encouraging you to embrace the silence. I’ve learned to feel comfortable in absolute quietness, whether I’m home alone or with a congregation of contemplators.
Silence is good. I was reminded of that recently. Since it was a Sunday morning, the traffic on our busy county highway was minimal. In fact, only one car and one horse and buggy passed me on my regular two-mile stroll.
Normally I dodge construction trucks, straight bed trucks, semis, cars, bicycles, and several horse and buggies. This day was astonishingly different.
Less traffic meant less noise. And less noise meant the few sounds that I did hear really, really stood out. I heard a motorcycle accelerating far off in the distance, and a horse clopping on the county road a half-mile from where I was walking.
It was at that point that I stopped and realized the full breadth and depth of the stillness around me. The compressor from the neighbor’s barn wasn’t running. No cows were mooing. Not even a bird so much as chirped.
For a minute I thought the rapture had come, and I figured I had indeed been left behind. I smiled at the idea, and continued my lonely, but not lonesome walk.
Walking affords me more than physical exercise. It clears my mind, fills my body with bountiful goodness, and sharpens my senses. Even my age-diminished hearing seemed more keen. I could hear crickets and the last of the season’s katydids singing in the tree-lined stream that meandered through the crops and pasturelands.
On the return trip home, I fully embraced the quietness. I felt richer, fuller, and more alive, all because of hearing nothing at all. I was reminded of the importance of listening, of paying attention, of appreciating the good earth of which we have been assigned to nurture.
Our world is filled with too much noise. Televisions and radios blast away with the talking heads, stirring up people when life’s recipe says to let the sauce simmer.
Even from my countryside home, I see too many people with cell phones pressed to their ears while driving their cars, or cords from ear buds leading to a denim pocket of a passing biker.
That Sunday morning walk instilled in me just how important a little quietness is in our clamorous world. That silent experience said stillness is more than golden. It is a priceless pearl to the soul.
I’m glad I’ve come to appreciate the quality and value of silence. Please kindly remind me of that next time I start to ramble.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2013