I recently traveled to Budapest, Hungary. Two cities, Buda and Pest (why did I not know that before?) separated by the stunning Danube River. My husband and I hit the pavement and discovered this exotic city, nicknamed the Spice of Europe, on foot.
We averaged 7 to 8 miles a day. I don’t think we meant to walk so much, but the ornate architecture and breathtaking bridges kept beckoning us onward. We would fuel ourselves every few hours with amazing Hungarian dishes and feast on gorgeous live music, almost always involving a violin. It was extrasensory in every way.
I didn’t actually notice how quiet Budapest was until the second day. My ears were most likely still detoxing from the noise of life back home. I was meandering down our favorite marketplace street on the Pest side, smiling to myself with an inner “thank you” prayer as I often do when I am overwhelmed with gratitude, and it hit me: Stillness. There were people all around me, certainly that would be the case, as there are approximately 1.8 million people living in the city limits, but there was just a faint hum in the air.
I could actually get lost in my own thoughts, because others were not verbally making me a part of theirs. I may have said, “How can this be?” audibly. Under my breath, of course, because I absolutely did not want to disrupt the magic of the tranquility around me.
The ensuing days were therapeutic, healing as my body responded to the harmony of the hush. I was not distracted by someone else’s conversation on a cell phone, not startled by a high pitch laugh or scream. I fell into the rhythm of other couples and friends having private exchanges as, they too, walked the cobblestone streets.
I was more aware than I have ever been of the decibel frequency of my life, and I said another inner prayer that I would do my best to change that upon my return.
There are many intrusive things in our day-to-day lives that shout at us. Look at me! Listen to me! DON”T YOU SEE THAT MY SOCIAL MEDIA POST IS IN CAPS? I DEMAND TO BE HEARD! And I think we forget we are in control of the noise level in our life. That perhaps we have assumed this constant buzz is normal, and it’s not. It’s so not. This reverberation is actually terrible for our well-being.
Last year, my ears started ringing for no apparent reason. I believe I found one of the culprits in the quiet of Budapest. I have been living my life with the amplifier cranked, believing I had to listen at the volume people would say things to me or about me.
I was front row, seated next to the main loud speaker, at a hard rock concert that I didn’t buy a ticket to.
I’m determined to change that. I like being able to see things and people without necessarily having to hear them. I prefer a violin over an electric guitar. I crave the discreet conversations, the sweet exchanges of people I have actually chosen to dialogue with.
Maybe that’s what you’ve been longing for too. I encourage you to find space from the clamor. Maybe that means not carrying your phone with you everywhere you go, or perhaps it means turning off the TV, or disconnecting from social media for awhile. Whatever the din in your life is, I pray you find rest and solitude from it. Here’s to good health, to slow walks, to meaningful talks, and to the incredible benefits of the sound of silence.
Blessings & love in abundance,