Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Nightly Note

This evening my fiance and I took our daughter out to a wonderful little play area near where we live. The cost of admission was reasonable - six dollars I think - and our child loved it. She got to run around playing with the other kids, jumping in the inflatable bouncer-thing, climbing and sliding. All the while you could hear the yells and shrieks of happy kids. I of course did little, opting to try and sit back and let my daughter pursue this new world on her own. It's not that I didn't care, but I felt it important for her to wander off on her own a bit, to build the confidence that she could indeed play by herself without the constant need to have the security of mom or dad at arms length.
She was understandably trepidatious at first, but after about half an hour of wandering timidly around our general proximity, you could see her begin to get adventurous. Soon she was running all over, and at times so far that I couldn't see her, which is turn frightened me a little bit. But she'd always come running back, ear-to-ear smile plastered across her outlandishly adorable face.

At some point my fiance asked me to make reservations at a restaurant we enjoy. Given how loud it was - what with a hundred or more shrieking children in full throat - I had to leave the area to make the call. It turns out the place had apparently closed. Without wanting to get into how disappointing that was to learn, we did eventually go out for dinner and met up with her sister and long-time boyfriend at the Mall of America. Once I got some food in me and got over some pretty severe grumpiness - the effect of having eaten a total of one small taco throughout the day - it was the sort of pleasant evening that parents my age with young children would have.

It was around 10:30 by the time we left, well after my daughters bed time, and my fiance was apparently exhausted too. So as they quickly passed out in their respective seats I was left to contemplate my thoughts from the drivers seat, a place where my mind is frequently at it's clearest. In almost no time, my mind wandered back to one persistent thought that's stuck me not only recently, but throughout my life.

Our lives are too loud.

Think about that. Then think about your day. If you're like most Americans it begins with the blaring sound of an alarm clock and the constant daily din doesn't end until you fall asleep. Even then, many of us live with the noise of the cars passing by, a fan or some other form of white noise. In between our lives are filled with the hubbub of the world around us and our daily lives.

That's true for the stay at home mom who listens to the shrieks of her children, the roar of the vacuum and the hum of the microwave. It's true of the construction worker as the shovel pierces the Earth, the hammer pounds the nail, or the jackhammer pulverizes the pavement. It's true for the office worked who listens the scratch of pen or pencil on paper - the click of the keyboard. It's true for baseball players too. The dull thump of the ball as it meets the glove or the sharp retort of the bat as its delivered to the ball.

The noise essentially never ends.

As humans we've become accustomed to that, and in many ways the familiar sounds can be soothing. They remind us both the good and bad things in our lives. They remind we're alive at all.

Perhaps it's odd then that I so thoroughly delight in their absence. I don't mean just on occasion either, the way I assume almost everyone sometimes enjoys their own quiet time. No, I love the quiet, I seek it out. Of course, I rarely actually find it during the day. But there are two times when I can count on being alone with myself.

One of those times is in my car. Most people like to drive with their music or favorite radio personalities. I like to drive with nothing more than the hum of the road. In fact, at least half of my ideas for what I'm going to write about come from my time in the car. To say nothing of the fact that those precious few minutes are a time to collect and compose myself for every other aspect of my life, like trying in vain to figure out how to outsmart my fiance for once. The other is at night when the children are asleep, the significant other is resting peacefully, and everything else is off. No television, no music. Just quiet.

It is during those times that I am able to connect with the angels of my silence. Then that my thoughts come to me at their clearest and most poignant. Then that I am most at peace with myself. I love the sounds of the silence. Because it is only then that the world is quiet enough for my to be able to truly hear myself.

Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both,, and He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery. 

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