On the fourth floor of my office building, there’s a stairway that leads to nothing. Well technically, it leads to a hatch that opens to the rooftop, but for the average person, climbing those stairs gets you nowhere.
It’s quiet up there. It’s the stairwell that not many people use, on the far side of the building. And being that there are few businesses are on the fourth floor, the traffic is pretty minimal.
Every few hours or so, I like to go walk around the building and try to get my Fitbit step count higher and stretch my legs. Inevitably, I find myself walking up those vacant stairs and pausing once I reach the top. And I just sit and listen.
It’s not that the fourth floor stairs leading to the roof are all that exciting, nor is there a mystery hiding in the walls I’m determined to solve. It’s just…still.
We live in a world that’s not only obsessed with busyness, but is so filled with noise—lights from televisions illuminating our eyes, cell phones and cat videos constantly filling our ear space. Even as I type this, I’m listening to my phone chirping while Evan has a video game orc or something similar grunting in the background. All day at work, I wear headphones to drown out the noise of other people. The moment we turn the ignition in our vehicles, some pop singer with debatable talent takes over the radio. Cars screech in rush hour traffic. Airplanes fly overhead.
My ears ache constantly from the sensory overload.
With an environment that’s making noise at full speed, how does one reclaim the quiet?
If you have any suggestions, I’m listening. Or at least trying to get better at it, once my brain can push aside all the excess.
There’s no hidden message here, no agenda I’m trying to impose. I’m simply thinking that perhaps we should all take care of ourselves and find those quiet moments, cherish them, and remember that life doesn’t always need to be deafening.
But for now, I’ll climb to the top of my stairs, listen to the absolute harmony of nothingness, and breathe.
Writer, editor, and storyteller living in the Twin Cities.