Monday, April 26, 2010

The Murder of Quiet

Driving home from the market today, I sat at an intersection next to a mini-van with children in it. Certainly not that remarkable, I assure you...however, there were also tv screens. Three of them. Attached to the back of the seats in front, all three had a different program on....and three little heads had three sets of earbuds and while mom was chatting to whomever on her blue tooth, there was an air of....what? Peace? Not exactly. Isolation? Detachment?

Flashbacks of my childhood grocery sisters and I rattling on, joking...laughing. (to the point that my mother actually used to PAY us a quarter if we could be quiet the whole way home--cheeky thing) But none the less, there was a curious satisfying mingling....ideas and thoughts Family.

I turned the corner and headed home. Parking I noticed the neighbor cutting his lawn...i-pod attached. A couple walked by, pushing a stroller with a toddler...she was on her cell phone, he was messing with a black berry and the toddler? Had some kind of hand-held game that was maniacally beeping and buzzing to his obvious delight. I walked inside the house, dropping keys on the entry table. Kicking my shoes under the bench I made my way to the kitchen with my culinary loot. The window was open...a breeze tickled the back of my neck as I slid the onions into their basket, nestled peaches and plums together in the bowl....packed away the eggs and cheese and milk. I could hear the birds in the backyard...a distant dog barking...and leaning against the counter, I just closed my eyes and smiled. You know that feeling? So good to be home.

Dinner begun, slicing bacon and onions, the sizzle in the pan...delicious aromas filled the room and I thought about my day. What I'd said, whom I met....and it suddenly occurred to me, "I wonder if that couple thinks....through the noise."

The incessant blur that is our technological revolution. It's a attack on the senses and the mind as we rise each day. The "convenience" we demand: portable everything. Music everywhere we go--cellphones and crackberries and games--oh, the holiest of grails: entertainment. Heaven forbid you actually might have to wait in line at the post office without having a game to play.

And I wonder....

Could we design a study....concoct a thesis....could there really be a correlation between the moral disintegration of our society, the eroding of our families.....and the simple lack of quiet.

In the quiet, there is only you. In the quiet.....there your actions are to be faced. Decisions made in haste are rethought...apologies composed as you hear your own angry words reverberating in your mind. In the quiet, goals are set. Dreams are discovered, plans made...ideas go from mere wisps to full-fledged intentions.

The quiet is not always comfortable. It holds ghosts...mistakes. But it is within this very discomfort that we surpass the animal world--where our humanness thrives--where we become....more.

There was a time, when going for a walk meant thinking about your day, not sifting through the latest playlist. When we mowed our lawns or planted our gardens...we examined our lives. Have we lost this in the endless quest for entertainment and distraction? Can we not ride the bus and actually have a pleasant conversation with a stranger? Must we all be surrounded by a wall...a distance created by cords and headphones.

Are we "entertaining" ourselves into isolation? And in this individual plastic creation--are we becoming so self-centered, so absolutely used to having it "our way"--that the slightest detour from this--the inconvenience of another's schedule, wishes, taste in music for goodness sakes! becomes an intrusion?

Some of the greatest moments of my life, the beginnings of glorious love and friendships and joy...were inconveniences and interruptions.

The greatest epiphanies in my heart--both blissful and agonizing--occurred in the quiet.

Today....tonight, on your commute, on your walk...turn off the noise. Unplug. Just listen. Listen to your heart, the voice of your may be wonderfully surprised by what it has to say.


Wow, that was awkward said...

This is a nice reminder to stop and smell the roses - literally! I do think there is a happy medium though. For example, I met an awesome woman that I'm dating now through this crazy blog world in large part because of our mutual appreciation for music - which was the cause (excuse) for us to start emailing each other. All that technology and music helped bring us together. On the other hand, you are so right about this - our favorite thing to do is just be together - no phones, no computers, no distractions other than our own goofy selves.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I worry a lot about the children whose parents don't bother to connect with them, and who just plug the kids into some form of entertainment. So much of that child's potential is lost.

Jessica said...

If it were possible to agree more than 100%; to back you up with a loud "YES!"; I would do so, and then some. I found myself turning the radio off a long time ago as I drove; the traffic was noisy enough. I put the TV in an uncomfortable and far off spot, and there is only one. I won't let my kids tune out with their iPods in the car, and I refuse to allow hand held video games in my home or DVD players in my car.
We get on each others nerves; we tease, we joke, and when we're not my kids read, or write.
Technology has it's place, but not as a member of our family, or in place of it.

steelxmagnolia said...

It is difficult at best to comprehend how some people have no knowledge of playing together, sharing ideas and just being in the moment. Opening their hearts. Their minds. Not playing parallel games, life in sound bites.

Chantal, you astutely point out what is so frustrating with our exponential growth in techno gadgets which serve to distance us further from each other even if we share the same space. Namaste.

Mom et al said...

I have often imagined how life would have been for me in an earlier time when technology did not extend its purpose to entertain. Yet I admit I am very fond of my gadgets. After all, how can bloggers not admit to being rather attached to their computers? I joke that my greatest skill is my typing speed. I wonder, if there was no keyboard to what skill would I have dedicated my fingers? I don't so much worry about my kids and our family dynamic. We find balance between the technology and our time together. I think to keep up with this world that balance is the key. This is a very interesting topic.

Simply Suthern said...

I sit down to work and I turn on music. I sit in my home office and turn on the TV. I mainly do it for the white noise. Sad I know. I think I will try a little quiet. Thanks.

Kirsty said...

Totally agree! I'm not averse to a little silence... I turn radios off... and I love the background music of birdsong now that it's spring!

Chantel said...

Wow--HUGE congrats on the kindred soul!! And yes, when you find someone you can just BE with...amazing. Technology is an incredible tool, but if it replaces connection--with ourselves and others...

Bliss--I know what you mean; with attention and encouragement...who could they be?

Jessica--great minds think alike! (and now I'm thinking of relocating my tv--lol)

Magnolia--"life in sound bites"...thats exactly how it feels! *sigh*

Maria--you use the magic word: balance. One of my favorite quotes of all time: "The opposite of unhealthy, is unhealthy." I apply this to marriage, If you NEVER discipline--or if you OVER discipline...equally a mess. I do love music and technology and my laptop! (chuckle) But if we lose who we are in the whirlwind....

Suthern--don't get me wrong, I adore music...auditory emotion--you can change the day with the right music. But the quiet...I hear my heart.

Kirsty--aren't the birds amazing? Leaving the window the morning, I just lie there for a moment, listening...

Suzanne said...

OOoooh! You're so convicting. :-( I rely on the sanity I get from the kids turning to zombies for a while in the car with the DVD playing so that I can have MY quiet!

Despite my wishing you were wrong, I need to unplug the kids from the TV more often. ;-)

Anonymous said...

My children were forced to play the alphabet game when we were on road trips, or they could color, or read or play with teeny beanie babies saved up "just for the trips". My youngest is 14. They talk to me.

My husband thinks I'm crazy sometimes. When I come from work in the afternoons I sit outside and listen to the neighborhood.

Krista said...

LOVE this! Amazing writing, and very necessary insights. Thanks!

Danielle said...

This is the best post I have ever read!
I think about this so much. I listen to books on tape as I drive in my car. I sometimes do it just so that I don't think. As I do this, I think to myself, I really need to turn this off and work through a few things in my mind. Sad, that I know this, and yet, I rarely turn it off for fear of what I will see about myself.
The other side is that I don't want my now 3 year old to need her tv in the car instead of telling mommy how her day was and I have already created this atmosphere.
Thank you sooooooooooooo much for this wake up.

Chantel said...

Suzanne--I really do understand the need for peace and I adore technology--however, what was intended as an "addition" or "in moderation" or "for work" has become a way of life for so many. Who would we be if we were raised like that?

Karen--Listening to your neighborhood sounds amazing! (smile) And I love the alphabet game...

Krista--thank you!

Danielle--Sometimes the fear is way worse than the reality--like when you put off taxes or bills or cleaning but when you DO it--the relief and sense being balanced and accomplished and whole...that feeling is so fulfilling. Listening to our hearts and each other...isn't fulfillment what we all are searching for? Adore you.

Shrinky said...

What a well-written and thought provoking post, Chantel. I do regret my teenagers always seem to be plugged in to something most of the time, i-pod, laptop or phone, I often feel I need to make an appointment to have a real conversation with them! In actual fact, this very thing has been large on my mind as of late. My seventeen-come-seven year old is my only child underwhelmed by gadgets, it's he who walks on the beach with me, sits and converses about his day.

I had a girlie bonding day with my two daughters on Saturday, well, sure I had to bribe them for it (buy them lunch, take them shopping), it was wonderful to rediscover how much I enjoy their humour and company, but it is also sad how rare I do spend any real quality time with them.

Even my eldest, who is studying hard for a set of major exams coming up, revises with his i-pod atatched!

Tsquared said...

There is substance to your hypothesis.
Nice piece.

Ann said...


For the sake of our future, we must unplug.
People hide from so much, but it will always find them... us.

Another fantastic piece Chantal. (I think my husband is getting tired of me talking about your writing :-> Oh well.)

Chantel said...

Shrinky--I know what you mean about the "appointment with your kids." Mine are younger but every year they get busier... (pssst--I'd love for someone to bribe me with lunch and shopping!) ;)

Tsquared--thank you!

Ann--isn't it strange how much we try to hide...from ourselves and each other. Say hi to your husband for me! lol

Ron Cooper said...

I’m already a follower, and wanted to say hi! Got lots of peace-and-quiet postings on my site!

My latest postings are, “Smiles,” “Spring,” “A Feast,” “Love Lifts,” “Wake Up to Serve” and “Soul-itude.”

Please stop by and leave your comments!


Dina said...

following from ff. i believe so much what you are saying that my massage business is aptly named Sacred Silence. with all the noise we live with society in general can't even quiet down long enough to listen to what their bodies, minds and souls are telling them. I used to love noise, then i learned to quiet down, now that i have a child, any moment of silence i get is a gift.

cdneuf said...

Finally got a chance to hop onto your blog here. Makes me smile and ponder, all in one sitting. Love the playlist. I edit to it at work sometimes. Thanks for the respite!

Lola Sharp said...

Every time I come here I know I'm going to read something special, thoughtful---it could be thongs or cheese, drifting afloat strange waters, soul searching and meaningful connections. No matter the topic, I come away knowing I feel your words.

I agree with this post. As with most things in life, the answer is balance and moderation. Abusing technology seems almost more the 'unplug' (from living and feeling a real life) than actual unplugging cords. We need to plug back in by unplugging the cords.

Another wonderful post, love. :)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Missie said...

Absolutely wonderful! I can't wait to see more.

Surprisingly Bright said...

I couldn't agree with you more and although piano keys danced in the background, they enhanced my reading experience. It's so much easier to turn on the games, turn up the music and escape the chaos of life, but I can't help wonder what we could learn by turning down the music and listening to what the chaos has to say?

MelissaAggie98 said...

Happy FF!

I'm your newest follower! If you get a chance, would you please follow me too at

Have a great weekend!

Chantel said...

Ron--lovely to meet you; smiles, spring and feasts are a definite reason to visit!

Dina--"Sacred Silence" is a wonderful name!

Chris--love that the people I know in "real" life are there to balance me... And isn't music the way we breathe?

Lola--kindred soul, love that you get me.

Missie--New people keep me...aware. Thanks so much for stopping in!

Bright--sometimes escapes aren't all they're cracked up to be, eh?

Melissa--nice to meet you...

Annette said...

So well said. I see the constant texting while having trying to engage in a conversation, and it makes me realize that what could be connecting us is often separating us from real relationships.