For as long as I can remember, my family and I have been traveling together.
Whether it was to Colorado or Florida, St. Thomas or St. Louis, we were always going somewhere. When I was thirteen, the six of us took our first real road trip. Four kids, two parents, twelve hours, and only the flat, yellow fields of Kansas to look at. At first I was convinced one of us wouldn’t make it back alive, but, as we set out on the road, things seemed to look a bit different.
Sometimes the car was loud with music playing and kids arguing, some of us laughing or talking, but the most important moments seemed to be the ones with no sounds at all. There we were, practically stacked on top of one another, squished in our silver mini-van with only ourselves for company, and yet, the lack of noise was not at all awkward or uncomfortable. It was just us.
Within those moments, the six of us knew how close we really were, physically and emotionally. Over only a few hours, rolling along the winding roads of the west, my family found what the presence of silence meant to each of us. A smile from the backseat, a glance at a sleeping child, a sigh from my mother . . . a chance for each of us to grasp what our hearts felt within that closeness.
This memory of mine is one that I like to keep with me each day, and one that I think applies to more than the typical road trip. In an age of ipods, computers, e-mails, and cell phones, it is easy to forget the significance of the unsaid word. Sometimes words are simply not needed, and silence offers a better answer. Two sets of eyes meeting in understanding, a tear, or even just the sounds of the passing road can mean more than so many spoken words.
Within the silence of our car, my family found the love that we each–individually and as a whole–share with one another. And now I know, that, whether it’s observed while watching a sunset or just sitting in a car, I believe in silence.
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