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The Sound of Stillness

I have titled this essay The Sound of Stillness because that was what I noticed immediately when the pandemic moved in. My husband and I have lived on Vauxhall Street in New London for 26 years. Our street is a busy one, often too busy. There are always sounds of cars and motorcycles whizzing up and down the street. Thankfully, we can still hear the ferry boats, trains and the neighborhood dogs. As I currently drive around New London, some of the sounds that had disappeared are emerging - the laughter of children on the playgrounds. However, those sounds are now muffled, along with being contained. Sounds do not run freely anymore much like we have to hit a pause button before we venture out.

This is the second pandemic I have experienced. That is a statement that does not deserve bragging rights but it is a fact. 17 years ago, I was in Wuhan, China delivering a lecture when SARS exploded. It was a surreal experience. My husband and son were also with me and we were fortunate that our safety was of utmost priority to our Chinese hosts. Disinfectant, masks, quarantine went into effect immediately. This pandemic is different as it is now everywhere in the world. We have the highest death rates in the USA, another fact that does not merit bragging rights.

Being a social person, it has been doubly hard for me to turn down social events of any kind. I take the virus seriously.

For distractions I have dug into historical comparisons. My thirst for how the world, especially our country reacted to the 1918 pandemic, has kept me occupied. What were the similarities, the differences?

I have grown used to living in stillness although I can hardly say that it feels normal. I have made the necessary adjustments to hold onto my overall physical and mental wellbeing. I am fortunate in so many ways but I still have worries.

Yes, Stillness has a sound and one that is not familiar to many of us in our often times over-planned-over-booked-frenetic-lives.

Every evening, after having dinner, I turn to my husband of 30 years and ask, “Are you feeling sad?” He always answers in the affirmative as I do. Stillness for us has become associated with sadness in the evening.

I have had to learn to live differently in this stillness bubble. I no longer take for granted getting together with family and friends just to share a cup of coffee, or a spontaneous hugging.

I am grateful for the following:

  • My husband and I get along and enjoy each other’s company. (It does help to live in a big house so that we can socially distance when we do get on each other’s nerves).

  • A big thank you to our neighbor Nancy Cole who has sent over delicious dinners with all the fixings just because she wanted to be “neighborly”

  • I am grateful to be living in our New London community where I see so many of us asking for help and receiving it.

  • Our beloved miniature poodle, Heidi, has provided comfort and unconditional love throughout this time period. We can hug her as much as we want and need. She also knows how to be still with grace.

  • I am grateful that I can give voice to my worries, my gratitude and my stillness.

Submitted by Linda English on Oct 7, 2020

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