Forward Living: Sounds of silence aren’t always sweet

01/29/2012 12:00 PM |

The soothing harmony of Simon and Garfunkel singing “The Sound of Silence” kept me company during the last leg of my drive home. My monkey brain, usually super-charged, uncharacteristically settled on the word “silence” — temporarily, that is.

I began to reflect on how noisy our world has become. The realization that most folks are inundated with all manner of things that beep or ring was disquieting. Another eye-opener: The only silence I experience is when I’m out walking; even then, I carry my cellphone and Sparky, my trusty recorder. (A thunderbolt of divine inspiration can strike at any moment, you know.)

On impulse, I turned off the radio and drove in silence. It was different, but not unpleasant. Then the thunderbolt: Could I fast from noise for one day? No phone, computer or TV — and me not talking. Seemed doable, or so I thought.

Once home, I scanned my schedule and carved out a day that wouldn’t interfere with my obligations.

When I mentioned my silent day to Frank, he looked concerned and asked, “Feeling OK, Ceil?”

“Yeah, why?”

“The silent thing — before you open your eyes in the morning, you’re talking.”

And he wasn’t the only skeptic.

My son Greg chuckled and said, “Mom, you can’t keep your opinions to yourself!”

Jeff, my younger son, condescendingly asked, “Seen a doctor lately?”

My gal pals clearly thought I’d gone over the edge. However, one friend optimistically said, “Ceil, go for it. At our age, we can be as weird as we want.”

My sister Nancy freaked out, shrieking, “We need to talk daily!”

Fast-forward to S-Day.

7 a.m. I awoke feeling apprehensive.

8 a.m. Coffee sans the online New York Times and this newspaper. Ouch!

10 a.m. Walking on the beach. The antics of the waterfowl were entertaining, the sound of the waves was mesmerizing and the sun reflecting off the water was simply dazzling. Ah, sweet serenity.

Lunchtime. It felt strange not to power up my computer; being devoid of the news was stranger still. I got the jitters. My monkey-brain taunted, “Heading for news-junkie withdrawal, are you? What if something newsworthy is happening?” I broke out in a cold sweat. Goodbye, serenity. I wasn’t making any noise, but the house sure was. The thump-thump of the washing machine, the constant hum of the refrigerator and the clank of the furnace kicking in were ear-splitting. I wondered: Are these the sound of silence?

4 p.m. Doubting Frank arrived home and said, “Jeez! Still at it?”

5 p.m. The phone rang. Frank answered, “Hello … yes, Greg, really!”

6 p.m. Dinner time. Frank seemed uncomfortable, whereas I was trying to suppress a major case of the giggles. After dinner, I retired upstairs; Frank watched the news.

7 p.m. In my study, watching the green light on my computer blinking seductively. I sorely missed my news fix. The phone rang again. Listening hard, I heard snatches of Frank’s conversation. “Nothing, Jeff. I’m surprised, too.”

8 p.m. I drew a hot, aromatic bath and lit some scented candles. The slogan “Calgon, take me away!” popped into my brain. It wasn’t a Calgon product, but it took me away.

9 p.m. Cozy in bed and reading. I rarely go to bed before 11 o’clock, but what else was there to do? The silence was so loud that I heard my heartbeat. “Yikes!” I thought. “What if it stops?” I tried not to fixate on my heart and instead reflected on my day. I concluded it was a mixed bag: I pulled it off, but the day seemed long and a tad boring. I missed too much of what made up my life.

The morning after.

7 a.m. I woke with a sense of relief and started chattering away — yup, even before my eyes opened.

Sweet Frank said, “Welcome back, I’ve missed you.”

“But you always say I talk too much.”

“It’s OK, Ceil, talk away.”

And so I did.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.