Ex silentio, narratio

Do you know what I love best about the library?

Sure, it allows me to bring a big mug of steaming hot coffee from my favorite place in the whole wide world. But that’s not it.

It has a great children’s section, with weekly story times for the Smooch and an awesome collection of books, magazines, DVDs, and more. But that’s not it.

There are three dozen computers in the bay, plus a free wireless connection for those of us nerds who pack our own. We’re getting close, but that’s not it.

My favorite thing about my library is the silence. The blissful, peaceful, respectful silence of a place full of books and people.

Do you know how much of my day encompasses silence? Not.a.lot.at.all.thank.you.very.much. Toddlers are not so charmed by the concept of quiet. Turns out, grown-up husbands usually aren’t either. And so most of my day is occupied by noise.

And that’s really okay. I wouldn’t trade anything for the ability to hear my baby laugh. The sound of his voice is priceless to me. My purring cats, the hum of the dishwasher, the sing-along jingly corniness of “The Backyardigans,” the soundtrack of “Halo3” and “BioShock,” the ringing of the telephone, water splashing in the bathtub, leaves crunching in the backyard. They all add up to the soundtrack of my life.

But sometimes? I can not think. Even though I’m a pretty smart girl with a good vocabulary, when I sit down with a notebook or a keyboard, the words will not come. At first, I thought the problem was that I just didn’t have anything left to say. All talked out, as it were. But during one (quiet) naptime hour, I sat down with an old college-rule spiral notebook and dashed off ideas of blog fodder for at least a dozen posts. In the days that followed, I sat with my handy-dandy notebook at my side… and froze.

The muse has left me, I decided. Mrs. C. and I have been throwing this idea around for a few weeks. How do you blog when you are juggling the rest of your life? When you are struggling to find the balance between private life and internet life? When you have so much to say but can’t say anything at all? And then, on one of Gruff’s on-call nights, Smooch went to bed early. Four hours of uninterrupted (quiet) time stretched before me, and I decided to sit down and try to write –something, anything, even if it all ends up in the desktop trash bin—and what do you know? Two complete posts and a third in the words by the evening’s end.

Here’s my new theory. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, or anything valuable to contribute to what I see around me. It’s not that I’ve lost my ability to reason and process ideas that don’t relate to potty training and language development and breastfeeding. It’s not that at all.

It’s simply that I can’t think with all this noise in my head! Just like some nights it takes me an hour to fall asleep because of all the garbage swirling around in my brain not letting me rest, some days I can’t write to save my life because of all the ambient noise that pulls my focus away from the words I’m trying to put together.

Which brings me to the library. Literally. For two weeks I’ve been attempting to get away to the library for a little while. Even a single hour can be more productive than I knew. Today, for instance, Gruff is home post-call. He’s sleeping, and so is Smooch. My boy has such a predictable nap pattern, I’m certain he’ll be out for about two hours, so (with the baby monitor on near Gruff’s head, just in case) I slipped out the door. I grabbed a coffee and pulled into the library’s parking lot. A peace, a calm, swept over me as the doors wooshed open. It’s a weekend day, so most of the tables are taken, but there’s a comfy chair over here by the windows.

I settle in and determine, once again, to write. Something. Anything. It might not become much at all, but then again, as the noise evaporates around me, the clarity comes back. So maybe I can write something worth reading after all.

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6 Responses to Ex silentio, narratio

  1. Amy says:

    Oh, I can SO relate! My quiet time comes at night, after the kids are in bed, on the nights when my husband works night shift. I get an hour or two just to myself. I usually read or get online to blog- both are things that I need a bit of quiet to do.

    Thanks for posting my Sunday Scrappin’ button! I’m hoping we get a big group to check in weekly and keep each other inspired. 🙂

  2. Mrs. Chicken says:

    Your posts are always worth reading. I went to a cafe to write a paid freelance assignment that has been dogging me for weeks. The cafe was on campus, full of serious-looking students plugged into their laptops.

    Just enough noise, not too much and the right kind. Not demanding-toddler noise.

    I wrote the article in 45 minutes flat.

    Sometimes it just takes the right mental – and physical – space. Hope your muse hangs around for awhile.

  3. fizzledink says:

    Oh, darn it! I forgot to do the Sunday Scrappin’! Maybe I’ll post it belatedly. {Off to check in over there…}

  4. […] Quiet time at the library. […]

  5. Heather says:

    I hear you…and the noise around here too.

  6. […] hit the corner Starbucks (my pick for spring? Decaf iced skinny cinnamon dolce latte.) and then our local library. This is the first library I’ve ever visited that allows you to bring drinks inside – and […]

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