Enjoy the Silence

Most of the traveling I’ve done has been solo travel. When I was young and would quit whatever job I had so that I could travel for as long as I wanted (or until the money ran out), I would spend long stretches of time in silence. Sometimes I would miss casual conversation, the easy talking that could be done with someone who spoke my language, with someone who spoke my language as their first language.

I am thinking about those extended periods of not talking because the shelter-in-place order I now live under creates something like that for me when I’m not working. During my work-at-home days, I have meetings and meetings and meetings. I have anything but silence. Come the weekend, however, I have to conjure up some activity if I want to speak — a phone call, a zoom date.

At the same time, it’s hardly true that I’m silent in my downtime these days. I’m a talker, and there always seems to be some chatter of one kind or another around here. I talk to myself. I talk to my cats. I am that crazy spinster lady you’ve heard tell about. I talk. 

On a call with a friend this morning, she mentioned how hard the silence has been for her. Like me, she lives alone. Unlike me, she has been working at home for a couple of weeks now, and the quiet is getting to her.

And so I thought about my travel experience and the enforced silence of having neither a companion nor enough language to make real conversation easy. And that silence went on sometimes, went on for one week, for two weeks, of me really not speaking at all. And it was hard sometimes, but it was also okay. I was writing in my journal, I was having an adventure. Silence wasn’t a weight I was carrying.

And we have tools now that I didn’t have when I was traveling. We have the ability to be in contact no matter how physically isolated we are. We’re just at the beginning of sheltering in place. Now’s the time to figure out how not to be driven crazy by things like not talking. We have a much longer period of aloneness ahead.


It’s March, which means it’s time for the
13th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Curious? Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Original Slicer - GirlGriot

10 thoughts on “Enjoy the Silence

  1. glenda funk

    “Hello, Silence, my old friend” is my first thought about silence. Sometimes I imagine myself as a solo international traveler, something I’ve done only once, which only gave me a tiny bit of knowledge about the silence you described., and I wonder how I’d handle the silence. I wonder how those who live alone are handling it. I need to make a list of people I know who live alone and check up on them. Maybe this plague-induced silence will help us all be better listeners.

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    1. Oh, yes. The Sound of Silence is a better direction than Depeche Mode! 🙂 I live alone, and I’m okay with the silence … but I’m also glad that I’ve had a lot of opportunities to check in with family and friends.

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  2. I wish I had been brave enough to travel alone in my younger years (before kids and husband). I wanted to go so many places but could never find someone to go with me so I stayed home.

    I’m having some voice issues so some imposed silence would probably be a great idea for me. I think I could do it.

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    1. I definitely recommend solo travel. I still travel alone more than with others. Of course, right now, none of us will be going anywhere! I’m sorry to hear you’re having voice issues. I hope the issues are resolved and that this shelter-in-place silence will help!

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  3. Amanda Regan

    While technology can oftentimes be more of a curse than a blessing, given our current situation we are fortunate to have it. We can stay in touch with others and education can continue even if we are not all in the same room together. If there’s a bright side, perhaps that is it.

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  4. It drives my best friend greatly, she abhors a vacuum. but the Sounds of Silence has never bothered me anyway. I’m home and it has been silent, but my office has/had(?) periods of very quiet time and it feels a lot like that to me when I have noticed it. Let’s see how it feels a month from now.

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