It’s ten pm. My windows are open to let in the cool, evening air. But accompanying the breeze, is the battering sound of a rat-a-tat-tat helicopter circling overhead. The incessant noise fills every corner of my bedroom. Fills all the quiet space in my head. I can’t escape the sound.
It’s nine am. My windows are open, to let in the warm morning sun. The gardeners aim their shrill leaf blowers at the fallen bougainvillea red, orange and yellow blossoms, blasting them into the middle of the street. There are leaf blowers outside my bedroom window, outside my living room window. I rush to crank the windows shut. And still the noise permeates.
There is a siren screaming its way along clogged streets, a truck beep, beep, beep, backing up, the low rumble of a plane, and a man on his cell phone negotiating a big deal in capital letters.
Everywhere I turn there is noise, shrill, insistent, assaulting. And when I turn to my own interior, there is more noise, bursting from the inside of my head. I am crowded up on top of myself with so much thinking. The thoughts jigger and clang against the quiet.
I hunger for silence.
Last summer, air conditioners working overtime caused a power outage in my apartment building that lasted for twenty-five hours. I had forgotten what quiet was. The background din of everything was silenced. No light bulb buzz, no refrigerator hum, no computer whine. I sat in a chair and stared out the window. Silence greeted me. It felt awkward at first. I had to start from a new beginning and quiet my mind. I had to unwind myself, and pay attention to what was right in front of me. Without the noise, my breathing slowed and I sat still. I found open space inside my head, and as the day turned to night, and we were still without power, a settling happened, a kind of uncoiling that gave way to stillness. I lingered in the space, crossed one leg over the other and exhaled, let it wash over me. My shoulders dropped.
In that moment, I knew that silence is there always, underneath the chaos, waiting patiently for me to sink beneath the prattle of helicopters, leaf blowers, cell phone users, and my own crowded mind. Silence is a gift—a space in between—a bit of magic.
In the silence, I could hear the hum of my own being.