When I was 12 years old, I loved my music. Like the time we went on a camping trip, hours north into the Adirondack Park, with my childhood friend, Jenny. I had to have a radio. I had to listen to my pop hits, I don’t even remember what they were. Probably Wild Wild West, George Michael and Def Leppard or something like that. I probably had tapes. I remember my parents cocking their heads to one side like they just didn’t understand. But I brought the radio anyway.
Now, I’m 30 years older. Now, silence is a welcome gift. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my music, just ask my kids. I won’t drive their father’s car because the radio doesn’t work. I crank it like a teenager when I pick them up from school.
But today, it’s silence. It’s not the first day of fall, but it’s the first day that feels like it. And autumn always gives me a feeling of needing contemplation and reading, and finding peace. Maybe it’s the correlation of going back to school, and I always welcomed the start of each new semester and the idea of learning new and bold ideas and becoming a smarter – and better – person.
I let the dishes rest. I leave the radio off. I send the kids outside. I read. I make soup. I hear the wind blowing quietly through the slowly-turning leaves. It will only last a short time, a very short time, before someone bursts in the door and demands a snack or cries loudly from a booboo or insists I come outside to see something. So I enjoy every minute of it.
I have learned the importance of slowing down and being quiet. I don’t always do it, but when I do I thoroughly enjoy it.
This is the fire in me, to have these moments of enjoying silence mixed in amongst the rest of busy life: Work. School drop offs. School pickups. Grocery shopping. The one lesson or practice we allow each kid. It’s too easy to get sucked up into the void of busyness and forget.
We need – I need – to schedule down time. And guess what? It’s okay! Really, it is. I promise. Tell yourself: it’s okay to slow down. Tell yourself every day until you believe it.
It seems silly to schedule down time or time alone. But it is utterly and absolutely necessary.
I challenge you to schedule one time a week – maybe it’s an hour, maybe it’s 10 minutes, maybe it’s the whole day – for yourself. To be contemplative. To rest. To write. To run. To walk. Whatever brings you to your peaceful place. And to go there and not feel badly about it. Don’t pressure yourself about all the things you should be doing or haven’t done. Just one small moment to be free in your mind.
Let quiet be the gift you give yourself.