Quiet, please

Jan 17, 2022

There is one good thing about January.

It’s quiet.

Less noise, fewer frenetic drivers, and even email spammers seem to take a break.

It’s a time to regroup, to catch up.

I love silence. Probably like many musicians.

This may seem strange.

But it’s not.

For musicians, silence is the soil into which we have to plant music; we must nourish the soil, make sure it’s of good quality so that our seeds will take root.

Stephen Hough

After all, it’s the intervals between notes, the spaces, that give the music its shape.

It’s the rests, the pauses, that make sense of the sound.

And it’s silence that allows us to ‘hear’ our lives more clearly.

The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes – ah, that is where the art resides.

Arthur Schnabel

Silence seems increasingly hard to find.

And we’re becoming unused to it.

So much so that many of us are made very uncomfortable by it.

The quiet – the space it creates and our thoughts that emerge from it – unsettle us.

We find ways to distract ourselves from it.

Still, we recognise that we need silence.

We’re looking for it in our personal lives and at work, as evidenced in the rise of mindfulness.

Noise has a profound effect. For example, the ubiquitous open-plan office is now recognised as a great concept if you want to alienate introverts, reduce productivity, and use noise pollution to drive people crazy!

As we adapt to Covid, let’s re-think the work environment.

Silence is good for us.

So indulge yourself in it!

Turn everything off, just for five minutes.

And, wherever you are, have a lovely, quiet January.