The Sound of Silence

How loud is your life? Consider the beauty of a quiet moment. Then consider how quiet it actually is…


Nicole went on a 5-day silent retreat. Other than functional talking (speaking if you have to provide instruction or alarm), there was no speaking at all. No electronic communication was allowed. The place was in the middle of the woods in northern Michigan and there was no children, television, or motorized vehicles (other than the ones they arrived in). It was five days of introspection, journaling, reading, or walking in nature, and not much else.

I have never done a silent retreat (it sounds maddening) but I still learned a valuable lesson through Nicole’s experience. When she went to bed, she could not fall asleep. She was unusually restless and somewhere around three in the morning, I asked what the trouble was.

She said, “It’s hard to sleep. It is SO loud in here…” We have sound-dampening curtains and do not own a television. We do not sleep with a fan or any white noise so, to some of our guests, it is exasperatingly quiet in our apartment at night. I was perplexed–so loud in here?!?

I settled back into the mattress and I listened to hear what she was talking about. At first, I could not hear a thing. The room was silent. After a minute of focus, though, sounds started pouring in. I heard the refrigerator whirring, the hollow sound of city traffic, the cat purring beside us, random creaking noises from the building settling, a dog barking somewhere far off, the rustling of the sheets every time one of us fidgeted, our breathing, my stomach gurgling… Soon I could not sleep either. It was too loud!

The funny thing is, on any given day, I am completely unaware of how much noise is surrounding me, and I mean noise that I can hear, see, smell, touch, or taste.


There is so much information coming at us at once that sometimes it is a good thing to just find a quiet space and enjoy the silence.