The world (or at least the city and the house where I live) has grown so obnoxiously noisy. Leaf blowers and rumbling trucks; air conditioning units and the buzz of the computer; TVs and cell phones ringing; the teenager’s music blasted from the floor below. There are fewer and fewer silent moments to just appreciate the soothing sounds of the natural world. I’m not surprised that The New York Times has created an online Quiet City map that allows users to find a place in any of the five boroughs where they can hear themselves think for a few minutes.
People who need silence to experience the spiritual inner peace of gratitude have to be proactive in order to find it these days. Some fed-up introverts have started a whole project on Finding Silence. And there’s even a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the quietest place in the U.S. If you go to OneSquareInch.org, you will get to experience it yourself, if you can hear quiet over your backup drive’s hum.
I’ve had to get a little creative to find silence in the city where I live. Here are five ways I do it:
1. I wake up before the rest of the world to write in my journal. In the pre-dawn hours, the world is asleep and mostly silent.
2. I go on nature hikes alone whenever I can.
3. I visit an art museum during the late afternoon of a weekday after the noisy school groups are gone. There’s a reason those gallery guards are sometimes asleep then.
4. I close the bathroom door and take a bath. If there’s any ambient noise coming from the rest of the house, I submerge my head for a little while.
5. I take the stairs at my office building. Apparently they’re very well insulated because you can’t hear a thing in there.
6. When all else fails, I use high quality ear plugs. When you live with noisy people, they come in handy.