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Opinion

Reveling in silence can be refreshing after midterms

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November 12, 2015

Agitated, I pressed the gas pedal of my borrowed car closer to the floor, my bright headlights illuminating shadowy trees as I sped past them. My shiny black car disappeared in the darkness as it wound up the road that signified I was almost home. The unpainted and graying blacktopped roads near my house were totally deserted, as per the usual, as I drove right down the middle. I had two hands wrapped around the slick, leather steering wheel and two watchful eyes, itchy from dry contacts, scouting for deer as I silently urged the car to move faster.

An opulent horse farm on my right was motionless and dark, the horses inside or already asleep for the night. On my left, a huge expanse of brown marked the cornfields, already harvested for the year with rusting red equipment laying forgotten in the field. A huge and dilapidated white barn was next, a sight I’m so used to seeing I often don’t even see it anymore—a landmark that has faded out of existence for me. My gravel driveway leaves faint white tracks of crushed rock on the asphalt and underneath the cluster of our mailboxes.

Passing the white expanse of the barn, I reached a finger over to gently touch the button that operates my power windows. Icy night air stabs at my face and neck as the cold wind invades my car, crawling under my heated seats and onto my hands resting on the wheel. Nothing signifies leaving school and work behind more than the sound of gravel crunching under tires. As often as I am able, I roll my windows down and turn off any sound to just listen to the owls, coyotes, the wind, and of course the constant crunch and rustle of gravel under my car.

I slowed to a crawl on the driveway, partly because it’s Dad’s rules, usually because of the mess of potholes littering the entire drive, but mostly just to savor sound. Every day I revel in the relief from the day’s noise; the music on loop at work, the contest drone of voices at school, the sound of alerts, emails, and reminders from my phone…the gravel is my detox. Every day I am able to tune out everything for a three-minute white noise drive, a quick fix at the end of seemingly endless days.

Now the midterms are over, but are they really though? I don’t think I will ever resurface from underneath the wave of homework and duties that have crashed, relentlessly, over my head. I so recommend that everyone allow themselves to enjoy and revel in the silence of it all. Sometimes I think we are all afraid of the quiet.

Everything has a noise, an indicator that demands our attention. Studying can no longer be done without a distraction: music, talking, T.V…does anyone else feel overwhelmed by all these stimuli sometimes? I wish quiet and the absence of noise wasn’t awkward, and wasn’t a luxury only enjoyed alone in a car creeping down a gravel driveway.

Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.