Feeling the silence

I’ve been living in London for almost a year and a half, and have started to forget what silence sounds like.

At night, when my eyes are closed and my thoughts start slowing down, I can hear the constant rumble of plane after plane, often interrupted by the nonsensical shouts of a drunken group of teenagers.

It’s likely that I’ll wake up throughout the night to a variety of sounds, courtesy of nocturnal flatmates, before my body clock provides me with a more welcome awakening. 

Then the ringing of my spoon against the bowl as I sleepily dig for cereal will complement the sounds of workmen outside. I should probably be more inquisitive about these kinds of things but it’s never interested me enough to try and figure out what they’re doing. All I know is that their jackets are fluorescent and their drilling noises are not welcome.

At some point around midday I’ll hear someone having an argument. It’s better when it’s with another person, but it’s often on the phone and I feel like the annoyance isn’t worth it because I can’t hear the full conversation.

With each unwelcome noise I feel my heart rate increase, and a dash of cortisol run through my veins. It’s been around 500 days of the same unwanted sounds, but my body doesn’t want to get used to them.

But today is different. I’ve found a moment of peace. I’m sitting at the very edge of my balcony, hovering on the step. I daren’t go any further, but I’m far enough outside to feel the cold. My fingers, stubbornly clutching the sides of a book instead of going into a pocket, are pink with that sharp pain that can only be felt from cold air. The sky is bright blue and just on the edge of starting to darken.

Despite living in such a noisy area, there’s an amazing silence. The kind of silence in the kind of place that makes me question my hearing for a second. The kind of silence that penetrates the perception of movement - my ears and eyes come together and make everything appear still. Things are moving but I cannot hear them.

It’s the most perfect winter afternoon, and for some reason it's the kind that could only be appreciated on a Saturday. 

The first few weeks of January are always tense. If something goes wrong it’s easy to think ‘well, this year has gotten off to a bad start’.

But this is the first year that I won’t let anything define my mood in that way. My start to the year has had ups and downs, but it’s already made me a bit more determined to choose to have a good year. Determined enough to sit, with my toes dipping over the edge of the balcony, and feel an unmatched contentedness because of the cold, sharp air, the wintery, clear sky and the planes that never stop making me dizzy when I look up at them. 

The discomfort of sitting on the hard floor, crouched into a corner to devour a rare moment of calm, is starting to feel comfortable.


  1. Lovely. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on January, and I agree - we wouldn't let bad moments define our whole year in other months! I love that particular blue the sky turns before nightfall in winter. Thank you for sharing xo

  2. I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog! Also I have read "Quiet" the last weeks and I've been to London for NYE. The way you write is intriguing and when I glance at the end of the post while reading it, I turn a bit sad, because the post isn't longer than I want it to be.

    I enjoy the crisp air of January on a cold, late night walk through the city. It makes my head spin and settle at the same time.

  3. This was a wonderful read and really well written. Meanwhile, I'm the exact opposite. Everything here is silent. As I'm typing this my keystrokes sound like gunshots. I often have to put on music or talk to my cat just to hear something. It's odd being in a place that's always so quiet.