how to be quiet

How to be quiet

Buy a forest’s worth of houseplants; sit with them and let them teach you what they know, let them teach you about boundaries and too much water, let them show you the optimal conditions for growth, that things don’t always have to grow to be beautiful.

Give your silent salutations to the sun – who knows if she’s a morning person?

Whisper goodnight to the moon when it’s 6 am and she’s only getting in – she’s had a long night at war with the tides.

Listen to the cardinals long enough to tell their dialect apart from the robins. Watch how the crows caw with their whole chests. Take stock of how people move their bones, how their smiles shift, of what makes them reach for their suits of armor. Worry less relentlessly that you’ll never learn how to take yours off.

Stare a little longer than necessary at pretty boys who stare back. Imagine the taste of their pretty lips.

Write about girls made of fire and boys who aren’t afraid to burn. Write about young women consumed by grief and expectations who refuse to feel anything quietly, who will stand screaming in the middle of crowded rooms if that is what it takes to survive. Write about quiet girls. Write about quiet men. Write about reluctant mothers. Write about the monsters you are running from every time you are writing about something else. Write in the margins of the meeting agenda, write a single sentence on every journal on your bookshelf, write on the inside of your wrists, write a hundred volumes of bad poetry – whatever you write on, just write on.

Scream at the top of your lungs every once in awhile to remind yourself you can.

Remind yourself your quiet is not something to be fixed.

Rollerblade until your wheels are worn to nubs; ball until your knees are ruined or your ankles give out; dance until the day you can no longer hear the music or feel the swell of the song in your chest and – no, screw that, dance until the very end.

Consume anything that breaks your heart – books, TV, movies, art – because it is a disservice to this singular human existence to not feel everything. Cry over the same book, that same TV show, Fox and the Hound as many times as you want.

Party as much or as little as you’re moved to party, but party hard when you do.

Celebrate your friends. Celebrate their birthdays and their boys and their babies. Celebrate their graduations and their milestones and the mountains they climb. Celebrate their victories like your own because when they win, you win too. And when there is nothing to celebrate, be for them what you would need when the world goes dark.

Walk holes in the sidewalks. Walk switchbacks up the mountainsides. Walk crop circles through the fields underneath your favorite constellations of stars. Walk to the edge of the river and dip your fingers inside. Walk to the ends of the earth if that is where you want to go. Walk alone; walk without directions; walk the wrong way. Walk wrapped around someone else’s body. Walk on the balance beam, walk on the edge. Walk through where there were never meant to be roads.

For a word that means something so soft, quiet can feel so heavy, so constraining. It can feel like a container in which you do not fit, you never have. It is a box that someone once gave you that you pressed yourself obediently inside when in reality everything about you is a rebellion. It is a rebellion to be so firmly, so unflinchingly, so unfailingly you. It is a rebellion to water these roots, to grow into these quiet bones. Because if you are quiet, you are the best of it. The softest, most compassionate bits. So when they try to how-to you out of what makes you you, I hope you remember that.

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