Sunday, September 1, 2013

Finding Silence in the Drive-Thru

We spent this weekend visiting our friend Bill.  It turns out that Bill is not a coffee drinker.  In fact, Bill does not even own a coffee pot.  (Seriously!?!?  Bill - I'm getting you one for Christmas!)  Being the type of person who has her coffee set to brew 15 minutes before her alarm goes off and who takes her first sip of the arousing brew before her eyes are fully open - this was a bit of a problem.  So in the morning, I pulled my hair back into a messy ponytail, grabbed the keys and flew down to the McDonald's drive-thru the moment my brain even considered waking up.   

This morning I pulled into a parking spot and enjoyed my steaming cup of coffee and flipped through the pages of a magazine. Thirty minutes later as I re-started the car and headed back to Bill's, I realized that I had just spent thirty minutes in silence.  Music had not been playing.  No one was talking to me.  The theme song to Good Luck Charlie or the sounds of players tackling each other on Madden had not been echoing around me.  There were no outside sounds such as traffic or even birds.  No interruptions.  Just silence. 

When was the last time I sat in silence?  To tell you the truth . . . I don't remember.  (When was the last time I looked at a magazine somewhere other than in the bathroom?  I confess that I don't remember that either!) 

As I drove, I realized that the car was still silent.  I had turned the radio volume down as I went through the drive-thru and had never turned it back up.  At first I felt a little strange.  There was a kind of white noise in my ears.  Then I realized that I actually felt calm and relaxed. 

Later in the day as I waited for my family to pack up their belongings (Driven by my caffeinated state of being, I had my stuff packed and in the car before the rest of the gang got moving!), I searched the web for "the benefits of silence."  One writer compared spending time in silence to plugging your cell phone into the wall - you get re-charged (  Another compared the brain's need for silence to the body's need for food (  Both agreed that spending a brief time each day in silence increases creativity and decreases stress. Several other articles talked about silence boosting the immune system, lowering blood pressure and regulating hormones. 

I found my favorite comment on the benefits of silence several pages into my search.  An article from entitled Enjoy the Silence: The 7 Powers of Silence in Business said,
          "Those who enter a period of silence each day learn to hear the song of their heart. 
            They learn to listen to the song that only they can sing."

I have to be honest that I had never visited any of these websites before today.  I was actually surprised that after going through several pages of my Google search, I did not find any articles by prestigious universities or well-known (at least to me) authors.  Some major medical research center HAS to be doing research on the benefits of silence, don't you think?

Regardless of who is saying what about the benefits of spending time in silence, I felt refreshed by my silent time this morning.  Getting a break from the noise of the world and having the opportunity to mindlessly turn the pages of a magazine while joyfully sipping my hot coffee was a real treat. 

There is a McDonald's not far from my house.  Maybe I should drive down there for coffee on a Saturday morning every once in a while instead of making my coffee at home.  Though I'd run a much greater risk of running into someone I know as I sit in my car wearing my PJ's having my first cup of morning coffee than I did at Bill's house. 

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