For the Love of All Things Loud

Life is loud.

At least, our life is loud. If you asked me to describe our life in one word, that would be the word I choose at this moment. And probably the next moment too.

The people in my life are loud. There’s a clamor of people ages 13 and under living in my home who wouldn’t know the meaning of quiet if I made them write it 100 times. In fact, they would probably shout at me across the room asking what quiet means. I would be hard-pressed to tell them an accurate answer because quiet has changed lately.

Quiet used to be clear to me. It meant a lack of noise. But the older I get, it feels as though life itself screams at me to “hurry up, get more done, be more productive, scratch items off a to-do list that never ends.”

But on a rare day, I spent a morning at my house alone, forcing myself to silence the siren call of productivity and replace it with the serenity of allowing time to slow and the noise to subside. It was harder than I thought. The whirring washing machine was the only noise that could be heard in my home. The mountains of dirty clothes made washing a requirement and as I walked around our home, entirely alone, it amazed me that I could actually hear the washing machine. When our home is full, the dishwasher is often on, but never heard.

That morning, I stopped to hear the other sounds of our home – softly spinning fans, the noises of nature heard through open windows and even neighborhood sounds. But after an hour of quiet, I realized I often turn to my own self-made noise.

As I clicked open to one of several social media apps on my phone, the noise began again. The noise of comparing myself to the lives of others in all of their Instagram and Facebook glory. The noise of the advertisements screaming at me in my news feed about clothes I should buy, and a well-designed house that makes ours look like it needs an entirely new facelift.

I clicked out of the apps, put my phone on silent and placed it on the charger in my room. I closed the door behind me, vowing to not create my own noise in the absence of noise created by others.

Instead, I began making a roux for a gumbo. Because it was the first few days of what actually felt like fall in south Louisiana, and a gumbo for supper always makes me feel an upside down world can somehow be turned right side up. As I slowly stirred butter and flour, creating a darkening base for what would later be a chicken and sausage gumbo, I gave thanks for the noise of our life. I thanked God for all the loud kids living in our home, the noise of a busy schedule, and the screaming demands of work.

Sometimes the noise indicates a life full of good things, a blessed existence that can be masked by grueling schedules and demands. Noise always indicates there’s something there. And those somethings (kids, activities, friends, work) are things I’m blessed to call a part of my life.

The gumbo came out just fine after hours of slow-simmering in a quiet house, and kids came home and filled the house with noise. Friends came over later and added to the chaos, and through it, I smiled, remembering the silence and grateful for the noise of a full life. POV