When The Quiet Gets Too Loud
The woodpecker pauses only for a moment before he decides to drill again into the side of my house. I have been listening to him for the last hour as I lie in my bed. There is something soothing about his dedicated rhythm and unpredictable rhyme that causes me peace rather than angst while he is pecking the shit out of my siding that desperately needs an upgrade.
I have noticed he rarely will do this to my house. He will learn there is nothing nutritious or worthwhile in these walls. He will turn to the trees or the ground pecking away furiously for sustenance on these cold mornings.
I knew he would stop soon and the quiet would follow.
When I was younger, we used to visit my aunt who had beautiful, big property. I was always in awe of it as it was a stark contrast to my living experience. We were used to living in apartments or duplexes where secrets were scarce. Even though our neighbors were segregated a thin wall away they were undeniably a part of our lives. When they fought we listened. When we watched a comedy on television our laughter would mingle with theirs through the walls at the well timed jokes. When they danced our pictures did too. When we cooked something particularly scrumptious the smell would suddenly remind them they needed to return our bowl they borrowed weeks ago. There was little room to hide or explore without other people noticing what you were doing. There was a connection that no wall could separate no matter how desperately I craved it.
My aunt's house you could however get lost in the front yard, side yard, back yard, pole barn or anywhere in the house. You could explore and play for hours-she always had movies for us kids and a room teeming with the neatest toys. I would at first get distracted with all I did not have at home. I would leave my mom and aunt in peace to drink coffee and gossip while I immersed myself in one thing at a time. I would watch a movie, play with a toy or two but eventually became distracted by how quiet it was. After a while, my focus was drawn to the fact I could only hear the sounds I was generating and hungered for more.
I would make the trek up the stairs to find them sitting at the dining room table staring out the patio window talking and connecting. Always. They were always there sharing, venting, laughing, at that table enjoying the view of hummingbirds flittering at the feeders and drinking in their scene, their happiness, their life. Content in a way I still search for today.
'It was too quiet', I would interrupt their connection with my presence. I felt as if I was intruding every time even though they welcomed me with side hugs and smiles.
'If it's too quiet find the loud that makes you happy', they would say to me. Maybe they meant television or a loud toy. Or maybe they knew I felt most comfortable surrounded by their sighs, their laughs and silly stories, their sips of coffee and exclamations of excitement over things I didn't understand.
So I stayed nestled in their conversation perfectly at peace listening to them ramble as the radio played and I watched the birds gracefully dive in and out while I was comforted and covered in their loudness.
My woodpecker brings me back to the now. Not because he is still drilling but because his noise, his work, has ceased. He has gone elsewhere to dig, to find his meal, to find warmth and left me with an overwhelming silence of these typing keys and my breathing.
When the quiet gets too loud for me I force myself to remember that we are only seperated by a thin veil. We can tear it down when we need to connect with life around us, when we need to recognize we are not alone, when we need to be immersed in noise and confusion we have the ability to shut up the quiet.
We must just be willing to make that trek upstairs and find our happy loudness.