Being quiet in a world that’s too loud

Abraham Villarreal
3 min readMar 19, 2024
These birds know the value of quiet moments.

All my life people have told me to speak up — to enunciate. “You mumble” are two words I hear in meetings and during phone calls. Being loud has never been easy for me. There are already too many loud people in the world.

Still, society expects us all to have certain norms. Stand up straight. Shake a hand firmly. Look people in the eyes. Speak up and loudly. We are all soldiers in somebody’s army. Life would be too boring if it was filled with those who speak up all the time.

We all know those people who whisper a little too loudly. They try to not interrupt those around them, but their whispers make noise and blow a lot of air. Those kinds of people always make me giggle.

And then there are those people that don’t know they are too loud. I once had a roommate who was excited about everything. He had a certain joie de vivre from sunup to sundown. There was no off switch. Some days, I needed an off switch.

At the nursing home last week, during the arts and crafts time, I met an old man whom I had trouble hearing. The music was blasting. His table was packed with plastic Easter eggs filled with chocolates. He was making an Easter bag for someone special, stuffing it with neon-colored grass and covering it with glittery stickers in the shapes of bunnies and crosses.

In all that overwhelming loudness of color, music, and people moving in and out, his words were the quietest of all things in the room. I asked him his name, where he was from, and what he did for a living. Everyone has an interesting life story before they make it into nursing homes.

Most residents there were professionals in their younger years. They moved from city to city. They raised children. Had their own loud moments in their lives. Celebrations of accomplishments, graduations, and births. Loud happy times and loud sad times, too.

Now, late in their years, life is a little quieter. There is room for silence at a particular time in your life. Quiet times sitting in your room and looking out the window. You know you can’t leave, not because you don’t want to, but because you can’t.

Quiet times reading a book in the courtyard garden. Quiet times watching cars driving by too fast to see who’s in them. Quiet times…

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Abraham Villarreal

People are interesting. I write about them and what makes them interesting.