Hustle culture has programmed us to loathe — even fear — silence.
Commuting without blasting music, podcasts, or audiobooks in our ears just seems like a waste of precious time.
Creativity, however, doesn’t require constant learning. Our brains don’t need stimulation to dream.
About a week ago, I needed to head home across town. I was only about three miles out and didn’t feel like waiting 15 minutes for the bus. So, I walked.
I generally hate to waste time — commuting or otherwise — so, I called and caught up with a family member.
After we hung up, I found myself walking — in silence.
Street lights were sparse, and traffic was light. So, it was a rather dark silence with only my thoughts for company.
Oddly, however, I went what seemed like a mile before noticing.
Maybe it was the autumn air — call it walker’s high. But walking in silence produced a serene feeling, such that I didn’t realize I was…well…‘wasting time’.
When I realized I hadn’t listened to anything since the phone conversation, I reached into my pocket and felt my earpiece.
Should I put it in?
I had nothing on my mind I planned to listen to. I wasn’t in the middle of an audiobook. I hadn’t paused a podcast earlier. And I didn’t feel a pressing need to break the cool silence with tunes.
For some reason, though, I felt the need to listen to something.
Walking in silence suddenly felt like going sockless — or eating birthday cake without ice cream. My feet were comfortable. The cake was good. But something was missing.
Was it really such a big deal, though?
I thought about it for a second and let go of the earpiece.
Seriously, what is it about walking in silence that makes it so horrible?
Granted, if it was miserable weather, if it was rush hour, or if I was in the middle of a well-lit, crowded street, I might have felt the need to block out the noise or discomfort.
But the instinct to fill my mind with noise persisted, regardless of the pleasant walk in silence.
I managed to ignore the urge — and it was awesome.
That final mile home was one of the most peaceful and idea-intensive moments of the week.
We all have challenges, plans, and general ideas that need specifics. Sometimes, we just need to let our minds rest and figure those specifics out without background noise or artificial stimulation.
It’s okay to walk in silence. After all, how do we expect our minds to dream if we don’t let them rest?
Originally published on Medium