The tea blooms before me. Tendrils of color deepen the previously clear water until it reaches a comforting mahogany. Everything about a cup of tea seems to have a softening effect on my being. Even sensation fades as if the steam from the cup has enveloped everything. My eyes, which had been stinging with tiredness from a late night study session, felt rejuvenated for a few moments. All before I took a single sip. In a day with a thousand and one tasks, it was a fleeting event, but somehow, the most memorable. Most of my days flash by minute after minute. I wake up to the jarring screech of my alarm clock and the overcast light creeping its way through the window. I fall asleep when it gets dark. Class, homework, class, sleep. Sometimes to break up the monotony, I sleep during class. I do so much, but seem to get nothing done. So as I stare down at the simple cup of tea, I feel a strange sort of peace that only comes with reflection and a little bit of silence.
The world has become very noisy. There are a thousand things calling for our attention. Even now, while I’m writing this very blog post, I have four other screens open, not including the Spotify player pumping music through my earbuds. The three other people in the room are plugged into their computers as much as the computers are plugged into their electrical outlet. Even when I walk down the street, I do so in a bubble of artificial sound. I get to hear people from across the country talk about pop culture, politics, and my personal favorite, sports. The effect is distancing. I walk past people without seeing them, I eat food without tasting it, and it is never silent. There is no awkward chit chat or even an acknowledging nod. The earbuds are a signal as glaring as a flashing red light. Don’t approach.
Ironically, filling our worlds with endless noise has become a type of sedative. The constant blare is a distraction from deeper reflection. Doing twenty things at once becomes a parody of usefulness, a way to feel fulfilled but to fulfill nothing. Often, I find myself sitting in a chair for hours on end, clicking, stopping for a moment, clicking again. When I do look away, I am surprised at what I find. It usually includes an endless number of people, with faces I can barely recognize, clicking away. It is usually lonely. But I think it would be the same even without the screens. When all is silent, all you have left is yourself. And all that is left of yourself is a scheduled routine, a set number of tasks to do in a row.
The best type of silence, then, is the one in the morning. It is when the day is still full of endless potential. I still think about all the tasks I need to complete though, all the places I must go at a certain time. But perhaps while I’m walking to those places, I may see something new. Maybe before I finish those tasks, I will stop for a cup of tea.