February 23, 2019

Quietly, thirty-seven

I woke up early this morning, just before the sunrise, and the only sound I could hear was the purring of our cat as she lay on my chest, as she often does in the morning. I lay there for a few minutes, not wanting to disturb the purring, and took in the relative silence. It was a slow morning, a quiet one.

Instead of making a macchiato this morning, I made a cup of tea. This morning, I did not want to hear the rumble of the espresso machine, the whirring that comes as the high pressure pushes the coffee into the cup. The kettle was less noisy, and the tea felt like a slower, more quiet way to start the day.

The sun had just started peeking out from the horizon when I went for a morning walk. There were no cars on the road, no activity in the neighbourhood. I was alone, with my thoughts, with the outside world. Everything was still, everything was quiet.

I chose my word of the year several weeks ago, but it has taken me this long to write anything about it anywhere. The word is, perhaps evidently, quiet. It is a word that I need to embrace in a world that feels too loud, at a time when I am floundering in the noise and only find solace and respite in the stillness.

I need the quiet: I need to quiet my mind, to quiet my anxiety, to quiet the rush of things to do and things I am falling behind on. I need to quiet my need to be everything to everyone, and quiet my desire to be everywhere at once. I need to embrace mornings like today, where the only sounds were whispers and purrs and rustles, and where the world felt, quietly, just right.

When I woke up this morning, I had completed thirty-seven rotations around the sun.

Thirty-seven is a funny age, a funny number. It is not memorable, but instead, an in-between space between more important numbers, like 35 or 40. (I once had a friend who loved prime number birthdays,” so perhaps, to her, 37 would be momentous, but for most of us, it is forgettable.)

Nobody grows up dreaming of the age of thirty-seven. Forty, yes; the vague thirties,” of course. But thirty-seven is unremarkable and ordinary. It is a quiet number for a quiet age.

I celebrated my 37th birthday with a quick lunch visit from my parents, but aside from that diversion, it has been a quiet, unremarkable day. I have cooked, I have read books, I have drank tea by the fire, and I have sat in silent contemplation. It was the kind of day I needed amongst the loudness: one that was marked by stillness and slowness.

Thirty-seven is an unremarkable number and an unremarkable age, and for that I am glad—something that is unremarkable is often something that is quiet. I celebrate today, and this coming year, with a hushed spirit; I am looking forward to the soundlessness that comes from being unremarkable, to rediscovering the quiet again.

Previous word of the year” posts:

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