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Savor the silent (or quiet) moments

July 23, 2010|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

"Can a guy get a little peace and quiet around here?"

My dad said that a lot when I was a girl. He worked 12-hour shifts. We had extended family who dropped in regularly. My mom had an active social life, and my four siblings and I were always on the go.

Such is family life. One could say it's noisy.

Not noisy just in terms of sound - which, in fact, it is - but in terms of movement, emotion, energy, responsibility and activity. It created a lot of mental noise for my dad.

As a wife and parent in a similar household, I hear a good bit of that noise myself these days.

Now and again I just tune it out. I retreat to a silent place in my mind, and set my voice to autopilot, saying "Oh" and "Uh-huh" to all the noises around me.

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A few nights ago, I realized this might not be serving me well. It was late. We were driving home after a hectic day. My oldest son, who is deaf, was signing at me through the visor mirror. My second-born was playing music loud enough for me to hear through his earphones though he sat two rows back. My 3-year-old was singing a different tune at the top of his lungs. My husband was discussing the week's plans, and my 5-year-old daughter was asking me about who-knew-what.

"Oh. Yes. Uh-huh," I absentmindedly told my daughter.

"Do you know what you just said you would do?" my husband asked.

"Huh?" I said, snapping out of my peaceful revelry.

"You told her that when we get home, you'll go into the attic and find her Polly Pockets, and help her separate them in Ziplock bags so she can keep some and give some to the poor," he said amused.

Busted. Clearly, none of this was on my late night agenda. My means of "finding a little peace and quiet" had backfired.

In the days to follow, I mulled over the immeasurable value of, as my dad put it, "peace and quiet."

The truth is, unlike some other items on my wish list, I can get a little peace and quiet. And I do.

Gratification must be delayed for a time when it comes to travel and major home improvements. But peace and quiet is attainable for free each day, and it pays dividends in wherewithal to tackle the noisiness of life.

I find it in a power walk after my younger children go to bed; in drinking in the sight of their lips fallen open, releasing warm breath as they sleep. There is peace and quiet in praying before the sun comes up; and in chatting with my teenager when he should be sleeping.

I savor peace and quiet in a delicious grilled cheese sandwich with bean sprouts for lunch while the kids are napping; in reading Date Lab as a mindless distraction. Sometimes just turning off the radio on the short drive to work is enough to clear my mind. In a few short minutes, I can actually feel my shoulders and my expression slacken.

Yes, life is noisy.

But can a guy - or girl - get a little peace and quiet?

The answer is yes. A little is workable. And a little carries a long way through the clamor.

Alicia Notarianni is a reporter and feature writer for The Herald-Mail. Her e-mail address is alnotarianni@aol.com.

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