Sunday, November 7, 2010
I am accustomed to silence. I have been a Quaker for 21 years. We sit joined in silence on Sundays, only occasionally broken by a message someone among us feels moved to share. Not everyone is comfortable with this form of worship. At one time I brought someone to Meeting who fidgeted his way through the hour. He'd been raised a high Episcopalian, and church for him meant somebody else creating an hour full of sound and activity. (Photograph of Amesbury Friends Meeting worship room by Ed Mair.)
At home, we hold hands before meals for a moment of silence, that for me is always filled with blessing and gratitude, and that I usually want to continue for longer than my hungry partner does.
When I walk, I don't listen to music or news through earbuds and I rarely walk and talk with others. While it's not exactly silent, I have the birds and rustling leaves to cushion whatever thoughts might arise out of the quiet solitude. I treasure my long walks out on Labor in Vain Road, a hilly wooded route on a dead-end road whose end opens up to the creek and the salt marshes.
Silence is perhaps most valuable when I'm writing, though. I live with someone who is fond of playing music from his large and eclectic CD collection pretty much all the time. We also both like to listen to NPR news and talk shows.
But I find that I have to turn it all off (and ask him to turn the music volume down) when I want to write fiction. I need to hear the characters' voices, to be able to heed their thoughts and intentions. For this, it has to be quiet. Preferably I'm alone in the house, but living with a self-employed person, that doesn't happen very often. I'm fortunate to have a lovely office of my own with doors that close tight, though. And I use them!
What about you? Do you need quiet for your creative endeavors? Do you prefer a bustling noisy surround?