I’m 32 years old, so maybe it’s strange that until I had my wisdom teeth removed last year I never spent any time thinking about silence. It was only the haze of a days’ long ache in my jaw and ears while I dragged myself to and from work on screeching, shrieking subway trains that made me realize: right now there is nowhere I can go to be in silence. Or even near-silence. I live in Manhattan: my apartment walls are thin, people are always in the streets playing music, public spaces are crowded, public transportation is crowded and noisy, coffee shops are less of a refuge than a hunger-games-style fight to get your caffeine and carbs. It’s loud here.
Add to this the fact that I gain energy from being around other people. I think it’s an extrovert thing. I never feel like I need the “alone time” or “recharging time” I hear some of my friends mention. I feel like I’m my brightest, smartest, most creative, sparkliest self when I’m around other people. I live alone, so I tend to fill the silences with podcasts, audio books, opera recordings - anything that brings the energy of other people into my space. This Christmas, I “stole” a water-resistant bluetooth speaker during my family’s “sneaky Santa” gift exchange: I needed it to solve the problem of not being able to hear podcasts over the sound of a shower or hairdryer.
I always hear people talk about the value of quiet self-reflection, so this year I made it one of my new years resolutions to carve out more quiet time, even if I can’t achieve actual silence anywhere in Manhattan. Time away from podcasts and audio books and opera recordings. Like any good knitter, I’m trying to use knitting as a bridge to a calmer, quieter place for my own thoughts. So far it’s a struggle! I just finished working on the second prototype for a new mittens design and was able to get into a nice rhythm while working on them. I’m finding it’s easier to get into that place when working on the short rounds of a small project, rather than the long rows of a shawl or sweater.
I’ll be interested to see where this goes and whether I learn anything new about myself.
Happy knitting, knitters.