Thursday, January 27, 2011

Simply Silent

Good grief, it was simple.

I mean, seriously… who knew that the simple act of turning off artificial noise for a few days would reap such a blessing?

Monday morning, I challenged myself to a low tech retreat for 48 hours. I decided to live without the assistance of electronic crutch or artificial noise.  It began immediately after I hit the word “publish” on Monday morning.  I unplugged my televisions, and then my microwave, and then the cell phone.

The computer was the last to go and definitely the hardest.    
Apparently, I’m a bit addicted to my computer. 

I admit to being sorely tempted a time or twenty to just engage it a little. Just take it for a spin around the block…  A game of spider solitaire wasn’t technically the same thing as connecting to the World Wide Web, right?  Wrong.

Let’s face it; computer games are just gateway technology.  Plus, is there any more colossal waste of time than an electronic game?  I think not. Even with the sound muted, they are nothing but brain noise.

If the computer was the hardest, the television was definitely the easiest.

I thought there might be a period of withdrawal, but there wasn’t.  It had taken me over 20 years to become addicted to the sound of background noise. It took less than 2 hours to become addicted to the sound of silence.

On Wednesday morning, when I had permission
to turn on the tube,
I did.
  It took me about five minutes to turn it back off again.

It hasn’t been on since.
Not even at night.

Now folks, that’s really saying something because nighttime silence and daytime silence are two completely different animals. Daytime silence is tranquil and meditative.

Nighttime silence is just spooky. 

In the daytime,
you never stop and wonder what caused a noise. 
At night, you don't wonder either.  
That's because you're absolutely certain
it was caused by an intruder.

Late Monday night, I was positive that I heard the telltale clinking of someone or something muddling about in the recycling.

Now, our bedroom is nowhere near the recycling…
plus, I can only hear out of one ear...
But I heard it all right.
Nighttime noise is amplified.

But I also heard the sound of good old Rudy, our neighbor’s collie.  Rudy is a miniature collie who is more of an arfer than a woofer,  While there is nothing whatsoever intimidating about an arfer, it’s a well known fact they make the best tattle tales. Once he started tattling, I never heard another sound from the would-be bottle burglar.

I think he deserves some Beggin’ Strips.

I returned to my reading which, frankly, is a project that needs some tweaking. 

Our bed is an iron one, and while I love the design, it doesn’t lend itself very well to reclining.  Layering every pillow in the house in a precarious pile doesn’t help much, either. You just wake up in the morning on top of the pillows with your book light and reading glasses playing out a scene from The Princess and the Pea.  The book light survived; I’m not so sure about the glasses.  

I’m not throwing in the towel, though, and I’m open to suggestions.  I am utterly unwilling to retreat from my new found friend of silence.  

Because I learned something this week.

Silence isn’t really silent at all. It’s just quiet. There is a profound difference.  In the silence, you hear nothing. As someone who is losing her hearing, that’s just not welcoming to me.  But in the quiet, you hear even the quiet things. 

Like the sound of a train whistle from ten miles away…
And at least four different types of birds…
And the whir of the heat pump that keeps us warm…
And the arf of the collie who keeps us safe.  

And  the still, small, voice.

Learning to love the quiet is this week’s simple pleasure.

Sharing this with Dayle at A Collection of This and That.
Join us for more Simple Pleasures.


Entertaining Women said...

On the rare occasions when we've lost power to our home, I agree...somehow the silence wraps us up in loving arms. The reality is those loving arms are always there...I just am so engaged with worldly distractions that I fail to rest in them as often as I might. Hey, Relax the Back stores and Push, Pedal, & Pull stores offer a super chair back, adjustable to fit the user. Check them out. Thanks for stopping by my post. Cherry Kay

Anonymous said...

Debbie, I must share...that quiet is really where I find Him every day! It was not easy for me to unplug like you did. But I did. The television - we are not connected to the outside world, so the screen is really for dvds...but still, that had to go off for awhile. We have no cell phones, but we do have radios...that also went still. The computer the hardest to keep silent, was the last to go, just like you.

I live in a small mountain town, so the nights are extremely quiet...I had to learn to enjoy this "sound" it took awhile...but persevere and allow Him to guide you while everything is still.

Ann said...

You are a braver woman than I, Debbie! I could no more turn off the TV at night than I could give up chocolate.
Although, having said that, there are some nights where the TV is not interesting and I tend to have it on the 24 hour news channel for background, but mostly I do watch the cop shows. : D
I also require it at night, especially when the hubby is out or away. I do NOT want to hear the neighbors THREE LARGE English Sheepdogs howl every time a noisy vehicle goes down the road behind us. I also do NOT want to hear any critters that may be crawling around in the attic OR anyone sneaking around the house and going through our recyclables or trash ....
AS for your pillow situation, have you considered a foam "wedge?" You can get them at BB and B or buy some foam at the fabric store and cover it in your desired fabric. That might help avoid "mount pillow."
Now, the rest of the day, I can go without the noise, but oh my goodness, I don't know if I can go without my computer anymore.

Cheers and welcome back to cyber world!

Angel said...

Wow. This is great Debbie. I never thought much about the difference between silence and quiet. I love how you describe the quiet things you were able to hear, especially that "still, small voice". It really does become so much clearer when we shut out the noise around us, doesn't it? Blessings to you!

Marydon said...

Debbie, QUIET is so welcomed ... I use it often, so relaxing & mind lifting. Beautiful share ...

We had a fabulous blizzard yesterday, 15" of that gorgeous fluffy stuff ... yippee!

Have a great day ~

Sonja said...

such beautiful new thoughts Debbie! SO many reasons for us to 'sit still and shut up'... "Be still and KNOW who I am"

"In quietness and confidence shall be your strength"

It is as true for me as anyone... I need to pause, be quiet and hear HIM all around me. I don't DO that often enough, and when I do... I HEAR Him!... duh!

Thank you for reminding us all... I need HIS voice above the din!

Amy Kinser said...

Good for you. I know that there are so many noises and distractions in my life that it is hard to hear that still small voice. I get so busy doing things that really don't matter, that I don't just sit and relax and be quiet. It would be good for me to do the same thing.

I do love the quiet but it usually still involves my computer being on at some point during the quiet.

Gail @ Faithfulness Farm said...

Debbie...I love the silence. It is amazing how wonderful it is to sit and quietly stitch (by hand) and enjoy the stillness. I need to do it more and it is easy for me to turn off everything but the computer....I am guess I am a bit addicted too :)


Sarah said...

Silence is golden! We rarely have the TV on, so our home is fairly quiet most of the time. It's nice!

Heather T. said...

I enjoyed reading this post, so very much! I, too, feel as though...even if nothing is turned on in the house, there still remains the background noise. I don't know if we can ever truly live without the sounds of electrical current in our ears. are so correct, night time silence is much different than day time silence.

It's Just Dottie said...

I have not watched television in two years except for The American Idol. I found it to stressful. I do not have a cell phone, but I really enjoy my computer.

Chatty Crone said...

That's true - it is not that life becomes silent - it becomes a life we can truly hear.
love, sandie

Jennie said...

I have been thinking and thinking about this. I'm at a point where I need to do some SERIOUS listening, and I think this is an excellent way to accomplish that. I might just be inspired. (But I might just have to wait until Sam goes on his next business trip. He does love to unwind in the evening with some brainless tv. Poor guy!)

I congratulate you. Well done, Mrs. Debbie! And I hope you got some great listening in. :)

Carol said...

This is WONDERFUL! What an amazing transformation and experience for you.
I do love quiet and silence, myself.

Angel Wings and Apron Strings said...

Debbie this is fantastic!
Quiet..blissful quiet is something we all need.
Particularly for a healthy prayer life.
My hubby has a hard time coping with silence. He works with machinery all day and watches tv at night to relax, and he's got too used to noise.
But 2 weeks ago he turned the telly off and read a book for the first time in about 20 years!
I'm opposite.
I hate noise - especially the TV.
Don't like strangers sitting in the corner of my home yelling at me!!!
But,(like you)I am a bit addicted to my computer.
Mainly because I can read and talk to lovely godly ladies about pleasant things in utter peace and quiet lol!

Katia said...

What a wonderful post! I have thought of doing this before. I must make a point to do it before too long. I do like when my husband and daughter go away to visit some relatives and I beg to stay home all by my self, so I can just have the silence of being alone with the Lord and rethink and redo my thoughts.
Have a wonderful week!

Vanessa said...

In my season of life with little ones, I so rarely have silence even when all of the electronics are turned off. I'm hardly ever even in my home alone! But, when those moments come along they are precious and yet I seem to waste them too often. I love how you described the difference between silence and quiet...profound! And I also know that I must miss out on so many things that God wants to say to me when there is so much noise around.
Thank you for encouraging me to turn things off so I can turn to Him! Who knows what I might end up hearing? :-)

Denise said...

Quite profound...the difference between quiet and silence. Quiet I can handle. Silence, not-so-much. (You know, like the silent treatment many men are prone to observe). I often have my house quite silent but that computer still gets me every time. Not noisy, just such a time waster. Loved your post and really need to examine my "listening" skills.

Joywriter said...

Lovely post, beautifully written. Thank you!

The Decorative Dreamer said...

I probably have quiet around me more then most. I often do not have the TV or sound of the computer on when I'm online and home alone during the day. My family comes in and looks around and turns everything on. I rarely use my cell phone much so I often enjoy quiet time in the car and or on my walks. I am amazed at how tuned in some are all the time because I feel like I am overtuned in. I would find it very difficult to not have anything on in the evenings though. I agree with you,that would be really spooky! LOL! So nice that you did this and learned how to appreciate it!

Big Fat Mama said...

We should all do this every once in a while!!

Dayle said...

I crossed my fingers and hoped you would post about your little silence adventure on Simple Pleasures and, here you are, just as I'd hoped. I had a feeling you would fall in love with silence. I discovered its countless treasures a number of years ago--have even written whole columns about it. Once you discover silence, in the right way, you realize just what you've been missing, and you'll make time to enjoy it often. Welcome to the silence club, my friend. Loved this.

Linda W said...

Congrats on surviving the quiet, however, I missed you and my daily fix of life through your eyes and heart!

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Well I am still at a stage in life where I beg for quiet...I have to try to find it, get up earlier and earlier to have a small minute, however, I love your post and realize that we can be quiet in our spirit in the midst of noise all around us...that is what I want to achieve, so when I have a physical quiet surroundings I will know how to be still and enjoy.

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

More times than not, I have only white noise in the background (fridge, boiler, wood stove clinking)-I like it. Allows me to focus and not be distracted. I always say I pay WAY to much for my cable tv bill:@)

Red Couch Recipes said...

My homeis not quiet at all with two teenagers and one younger. Piano and instrument practice and talking and fighting. I do somethings turn off the radio when I am cleaning to have quiet time for myself -- I love to think and dream and plan. Very interesting post and observations. Joni

Sharon Kirby said...

How I enjoyed the way you contrasted silence with quiet. You're so right, they're completely different. It made me think of having a quiet spirit - not necessarily silent. But speaking from a place of humble devotion to God.

I also thought about how God speaks in His creation. When my husband and I go camping, there is a profound silence when I sit by a campfire and stare up at the myriad of stars in the sky. There's no sound of technology or progress - just the "silent" witness of billions of little lights that practically SHOUT to me - THE LORD ALMIGHTY REIGNS!

Loved this one especially.

(And a little p.s. - which you already knew - I'm a total scaredy-cat, especially of the little sounds in the night. I got all freaked out just the other night until I finally figured out that the icemaker in the fridge was stuck...pathetic!)

Jen said...

It's fabulous to think about making room for that still small voice. I have a picture hanging in my kitchen that says, "Make time for the still quiet moments, for God whispers and the world is loud."

And, as someone who wears hearing aids, I can totally relate to your post!

Anita said...

Wow Debbie! Thank goodness for that dog. I ALWAYS had the TV on if for nothing but the noise. I have gotten to where I love the quiet too. Maybe because we are here in the woods by the creek. Once spring comes, I'll leave the window open a bit just to hear it at night. Love that sound. If my husband were not here with me, I would wake at every little sound though! Knowing there are bears and coyotes right outside the door is a little unsettling, but with him here I don't seem to notice as much. Beautiful writing Debbie. Love reading everything you write!

Ms.Daisy said...

When my friends and I go on Spiritual retreat to America's Keswick in the summer, we go cold turkey as there are no TV's, no computers, no phones or anything that would distract us from seeking Him. Beautiful QUIET.


Lynn Richards said...

I KNEW it!! You were just saving the best...I almost had a day of silence..well, I kept the t.v. off. And turned off my computer several times. And eventually turned off the radio until 3:00. And while I'm grateful for my dog, she spent the better part of the day staring at me, willing me to take her for a walk, but the couch called today...and a little bit of silence. Which I will take when I can get it.

Dawn said...

totally unplugged? wow!! there are times i love the quiet and times i need the hum of life going on, even when i am alone. love your thoughts sbout daytime quiet & night! haha!!

thanks so much for your kind words over at my blog yesterday... you touched my heart!

Colletta's Kitchen Sink said...

You are hilarious! I love your post and yes, there is a difference between daytime silence and night time silence. Spooky is right!

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I appreciate it!

Have a great Friday and an even better weekend!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for coming back after not being able to leave a message yesterday, very much appreciated! =)

You're definitely stronger than I for I wouldn't be able to unplug everything like you did... WoW! =)

Evelyn S. said...

This is a beautiful personal essay. I love the premise, the plan, and the execution. I don't think I could do it....the computer part, in particular. As it is, I spend too much time alone in my house now that I'm retired. I admire you for cutting the electronic cord, though. I have two large books I started months ago....and I need to get back to them.

Canadagirl said...

I really enjoyed this post. I discovered the beauty of silence ohhh I am not sure over ten years ago. Once you discover it and savor it you are a different person. I love that I can really hear God's quiet voice now and things are not crowding it out now. I was very addicted to background noise but not anymore. {0=

Thank you once again for sharing.

Blessings in Him<><

PS: The unabridged Pilgrims Progress is not hard to read, don't let it hold you back. [0=

Sue said...

I loved this post Debbie. You have a gift, that good writers have, of putting in to words the things that the rest of us feel ~ or want to feel.

I am long a lover of quiet. It is one of the things my husband and I have to "work" on. {he is not } I rarely have the TV on, and never in the daytime. With a traveling husband I confess to using it for background noise at night, because you are right, it IS different at night. {although at our house, it is not an intruder it is THE AX MURDERER!!!! :-) } But I have slowly weaned myself from that. I used to fall asleep to the TV and have kicked that habit too.

But, the computer....that's a toughie. I am attempting to use a timer to keep myself honest. We'll see.

Thanks for sharing your experience!

Gayle said...

As usual, superbly written. And, as usual, I laughed out loud somewhere between beginning and end. I'm glad I had a small part in your time of quiet and tranquility. It really is a beautiful thing.

Gayle said...

P. S. I meant to give you a suggestion for reading in your iron bed. My ex and I used to buy these type bed pillows, and I just loved them. I'm attaching a link. Hopefully, it opens correctly. If not, google "bed lounging pillows."

Joan said...

Yes, yes, yes! I love the sound of silence. A few years ago, I was sitting in my den (at the computer) and my husband was away on a men's retreat. I heard a sound from the kitchen - a small crackling sound, and went to investigate. It was the sound of my refrigerator in the auto-defrost cycle. Even though I had that same refrigerator for many years, I had never been silent enough to know that sound.

Love this post!

Sherry said...

Hie Debbie,
You write really well. It is fun to read your insights on whatever subject you are writing about. I like the comparison of quite and silence. It is different. I don't need the tv either, hardly find anything on it. We have been talking about getting rid of it, but if they ever decide to kill the internet as we are seeing in the news maybe we should keep it. Have teens and the senior has been getting a lot of insight from teachers on the news and his generation will basically live for the internet, but then we didn't see how powerful it really was and will be till Monday. Amazing that social media can take on this power. I never saw it coming. So, there is a lot to think about a new age dawning, what limits should apply to it, if any. It will be interesting. It could be the Renaissance of our future history, everything is going to change all because we plugged in.

Francie...The Scented Cottage Studio said...

Rarely do I have the TV on in the daytime...but it's still not quiet :) At night it is nice and quiet and I love the stillness....and then I hear the train and it's the morning the birds singing...

The Pleasures of Homemaking said...

I frequently have no tech days! I love the quiet. My fridge makes so much noise cycling on and off and it's never totally quiet around here:) My MIL used to always have the TV running 24/7. It used to drive me crazy to visit her.

I'm looking forward to seeing your kitchen!


Donna@Conghaile Cottage said...

BEAUTIFUL!!! Loved this and would LOVE to give up the TV! There is nothing on anyway... I do love the OLD MOVIES though and Masterpiece theater... OK, I can sit in the library with the ACTUAL Masterpieces and read them! NO NOT THE COMPUTER! My Friends live there! Therefore I can't give it up! I am legally deaf and can get by with aid to one ear and reading lips SO I do know quiet very well...
Thank you SO MUCH for this post... It was Fantastic!
Hugs to you,

saltbox treasures said...

Hi Debbie, had to come over and say hi. I haven't been out blog visiting too much lately. Thanks for your kind comments. Love this post. Electronics have taken over the world. I'm glad you had a rewarding 48 hour challenge. Some days I never have the tv on; and I'm not a phone yakker; but I could probably use the computer less. I actually like the quiet.
Have a great weekend!
~ Julie

Kathleen said...

We had a forced turn off. Lost our power in the storm. Didn't care about the TV or puter, but the lack of lights and heat got to me!

I have never played computer games. I spend too much time here already!

Have a great weekend! :)

Katia said...

Thanks for stopping back and letting me know about the ice cream,'s fun but burrrrrrrrrrrrr ;)

The Quintessential Magpie said...

I came by to find you. I must have posted on your last post, just as you hit publish on this one. Because I don't remember reading it. You tricked me! You did, you know!

You can be quiet, but please don't be silent. I miss your posts when you are. You are one of the blogs I look forward to reading because you have such a wicked sense of humor and a great tablescaping eye among other things like your strong faith, Debbie. So you can throw the TV out the window for all I care, but please promise me you won't send the computer packing because I miss you when you are SILENT.


Sheila :-)

FrouFrouBritches said...

You are a better woman that I am. I need the "noise" to distract me from the "Mom, I wants" and the "Mom, she..." "Mom, he...". It helps me keep my sanity. Not to mention that I think I would need some type of 12 step program to give up my TV AND my computer. It's my crack! One more thing, don't put your computer down for too long. We'd miss you too much!

Mid-Atlantic Martha said...

TV would not be hard for me -- but computer sure would! I guess the "sound of silence" would be good though. I love music too -- not sure I could do without. Thanks for your sweet visit last week -- I'm late getting around.

Anita said...

How are you doing??? Thanks for stopping by! I really want to make some more aprons, maybe the kind you can make in an hour, lol!


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