Even before a timely visit from a butterfly, I’d been thinking a lot about peace and quiet.
My girlfriend is reading Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet,” which champions “The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.”
A couple of weeks ago, one of my sons sent me a link to an article in the Atlantic about the last 12 places in America where you can go more than 15 minutes without hearing any human noise.
Then over the weekend I accompanied my girlfriend on a nature-oriented video shoot that took us to a nearby creek. Standing so close to the rushing water, I quickly was lost in its soothing sound. There was no other noise except for occasional birdsong and the unwelcome roar of trucks on the road behind us.
As I stood next to the creek, the rushing water swept all the clutter from my head.
And then the butterfly showed up.
This cool little insect landed on a fallen limb overhanging the creek. Its patience was remarkable. It stayed in one spot for about 10 minutes, opening and closing its wings, then fluttered away only to come back again and again.
Merely by being “present” at that moment, I was able to concentrate yet do so in a relaxed, stress-free manner. Everything slowed down.
A couple of days later, on a Monday morning, I wonder: Why aren’t there more such moments? Why must we escape to a remote stream on a weekend just to decompress and realize we’re all moving too fast (and maybe talking too much)?
It makes sense that one of my favorite songs remains Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence.” Sure, I can be loud and even inappropriate at times, but I prefer peace and quiet.
Being around chronically loud people is emotionally and physically draining. The same for people who, as Susan Cain says, “can’t stop talking.” There are days when I wish my bad ear was worse than it is, and I could turn my head accordingly when Mr. or Ms. Loud tries to take over a room.
Maybe in those situations we should pretend we’re at a creek listening to the rush of water, and put a twist on what parents tell their noisy children: Use your outdoor voice.