The Sound of Silence

A minute’s silence.
That was all that was expected from the crowd at last night’s State of Origin match at the G. (If you’re outside Australia, “the G” is the hallowed Melbourne Cricket Ground, also called the MCG; as for State of Origin, just Google it, okay?)

A minute’s silence to pay homage to Olympian Ron Clarke, a long-distance runner who passed away yesterday.
Instead, what followed was booing and yelling.
Disgraceful. Disrespectful.

Was the spectators’ sense of respect drowning at the bottom of their beers? Where were their manners? Couldn’t the crowd keep quiet for 60 seconds?

And then it hit me. I could learn a lesson or two in the art of keeping my mouth shut.
In fact, this is what transpired at our place just a couple of hours before the match kicked off.

I was barking out orders to the kids:
“Just finish your homework. NOW!”
“How many times have I asked you to have a bath?”
“One of you has not unpacked your lunch-box. AGAIN!”
“Have you fed Bob?” (the goldfish)
“The floor is NOT the laundry hamper.”

And then, almost like an out-of-body experience, I actually heard myself yelling. (I’m sure my neighbours heard me too.) It did not sound good. It was not working.
I shut up.
I wish I could say everything fell into place perfectly. It didn’t. But, man, the house was far more relaxed without my drill sergeant commands.

Silence can speak volumes.
In the case of the footy match, it spoke of respect – or lack of it.
In my case with my kids, it taught me to let the kids be without ordering them around.

But today, I’m focusing on another aspect of silence – my quest for peace and quiet. Something quite hard to find in a world where everyone and everything is clamouring for your attention.

Horn OK Please

Only in India: Horn OK Please!

Noise. We make it. We’re bombarded by it. You would think that coming from Bombay (Mumbai), a city that’s proud to be loud, I’d be used to the daily din. It’s a place where your car horn is used to communicate anything from a friendly ‘I’m overtaking you’ to ‘Move out of my way, $*?%!#.

So how do I find a sliver of silence?

A few years ago, my well-meaning husband gifted me a iPod Shuffle so that I could listen to some uptempo tracks on my morning run. I’ve never used it. I’ve made the conscious effort to be in the Quiet Zone when I exercise. It’s just me and the road. I want to be able to hear the voice in my head without any doof-doof music to distract and detract.

For I know that as soon as I set foot back inside, the onslaught of life’s busyness will envelop me. Brekkie. A barrage of questions from the kids. Bills to pay. Banging on the bathroom door…

So my tip for this week is to put up a figurative “Quiet, Please!” sign.

Maybe spend some time in a quiet place: a church/temple/mosque, a library, a Zen garden or an art gallery. Take a walk off the beaten track. Indulge in a quiet pass-time. Practise meditation. Switch off all technology an hour before bed-time. Cancel out the noise around you and and tune into the relaxing and restorative powers of silence.

Here are some ‘S’ words that are the epitome of quiet:

So tell me, are you a quiet person? Do you crave silence? What do you do to grab five minutes of peace?


4 responses to “The Sound of Silence

  1. Another thoughtful piece Alison …. I remember all that with my kids …. They just switch off from the nagging. I remember that on the odd occasion I lost my voice (not from shouting!) and I had to whisper, they actually stopped and did what I’d asked!

    Liked by 1 person

    • How funny! The exact same thing happened to me about a year ago. I lost my voice due to a hacking cough. The kids paid close attention to everything I said. No raised voice needed!


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