Welcome to Quest for Quiet

Karen wild swimming

I’m sat in my garden trying to think of what to write as an introduction to this site and myself. But I can’t concentrate. In a case of pure irony my quest for quiet is being interrupted – my neighbour has just turned on some music, a motorbike is squealing down the road in a too high gear and my husband has just plugged his guitar into his amp. My stress levels are up, my tinnitus is starting to dominate and the words I want to write are stuck in the treacle of my brain.

Three years ago, I took the Myers-Briggs personality test and was shocked when it announced that I was an introvert! What! Nope, wrong person. I can be loud, I am very opinionated, I like to go out to restaurants and wine bars. But the more I thought about it the more I realised I’d got it wrong all these years. Yes, I can be loud and like to go out but only with people I know well, and I absolutely need to recharge afterwards. I hate clubs and restaurants where they insist on blaring music so the only way you can hear your friends is too scream at them. My favourite place to go is a small tea shop where I can hole up in the little nooks with a book and cup of tea. I crave quiet and solitude, only then can I cope with other people. Then, after reading Susan Cain’s Quiet I finally came out as an introvert. And ironically, I’ve been loud and proud about it ever since.

Around the same time as the personality test I also noticed a whistling in my ear. Just one ear. It got louder. It started to disrupt my sleep. My ear became painful in noisy environments. A quick google later and I’d decided I had a brain tumour (I know, I know, never google health issues!). A visit to the doctor, hospital and an MRI confirmed that I had unilateral tinnitus. For someone who loves quiet, this was very unwelcome news. I’ve since spent a lot of time with a hearing therapist and, although the tinnitus will probably be with me for life, I’ve developed coping strategies and actually appreciate its presence as a warning that my stress levels are getting high.

This blog, at its simplest, is about me trying to find the quiet I need to be able to function everyday as a calm human being. I will be exploring apps, reading books, visiting places of solitude and more, all in the name of quiet. At first, I worried that this might sound a bit selfish, but something I’ve learned over the last few years is that being selfish is often in our own heads. Do you stop your partner going for a run or your children from going out to see their friends? Hopefully not. So why shouldn’t you take some time out every day to find some quiet, reset your brain and reduce the effects of the noisy world we live in.

So join me on my quest. I hope some of what I talk about helps you on your own journey to quiet.

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”

Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth