Every day, when I arrive home, I step off the bus after chatting loudly with my friends. The bus engine roars, and the passengers’ voices swell, and then the wheels begin to turn. And I watch over my shoulder as I walk up the drive. The bus shrinks in size as it trundles down the tree-lined street. And now, the only things heard are the faint sound of my shoes on the concrete or a squirrel pawing at the ground for an acorn. As I walk up the steps, I fish for the key in my bag, find it, and with a satisfying “click,” open the lock. Once inside my house, I kick off my shoes and put down my bag. I walk towards the kitchen, now dark and empty. With the flip of a switch, the room is flooded with light and the little blue tiles on the wall twinkle. I stand in the middle, surveying my surroundings. At this time, every day, I realize something. I realize that, though I am alone, and all is quiet and still, the world outside still goes on. I can stop and stare at the plastic carrot magnet on the fridge for an hour, seemingly going no where, pausing time and space, but no! Other things happen, the universe progresses, time continues… Ken across the street finishes mowing his lawn and the Mougin girls begin a game of baseball in their front yard. Three blocks away, the pizza place cashier rings up a mushroom slice as a gum ball zigzags through a maze into a child’s hand. Many, many miles away, a little blond pigtailed girl is celebrating her birthday, and an old woman holds her daughter’s hand in a sterile, white hospital ward. An airplane takes flight, another one lands, the president signs a document, and an audience erupts into applause. And yet, all the while, I stand in my quiet little blue-tiled kitchen, the silence enveloping me.
And at that moment, I may not be adorned with diamond rings and bracelets, but I am the richest person in the world. Why? Because silence is golden.