News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion Columns

October 15, 2013

LIZ CIANCONE: Finding a little quiet time harder than ever

TERRE HAUTE — Two things I especially miss about living in a small town like Yorkville are the quiet and the dark. Both offered an opportunity for quality quiet time to just think.

I can’t remember the last time I was able to look up at night and marvel at the quiet of vast space and wonder how many thousands of stars were twinkling up there. Now with artificial daylight at all hours, it has to be a pretty bright star to make it through to view.

As for getting away to a quiet spot, I haven’t worked that out at all. If it isn’t the noise of traffic or the hum of machinery working to make the climate more comfortable, it is loud voices or the blare of a train whistle making sure that folks are clear of the track.

Lately, I find myself looking for a mindless task — I’ll even accept a noisy one — just so I could accomplish something but let my mind drift.

The other day, I drove to the grocery. I was in the car by myself. I had a list in my purse, so I didn’t have to think about reviewing the empty shelves in the cupboard. I did keep a corner of my daydream world on the traffic around me, but there really wasn’t a lot. I discovered I could gain a sense of solitude by simply obeying the posted speed limit.

Much of the trip involves a 30-miles-per-hour speed zone. I was in no particular hurry and that seemed a fair speed. Cars began to zip around me at something — obviously — above the speed limit. Sometimes it seemed well beyond the speed limit. When I reached the 40-miles-per-hour zone, my fellow motorists took that as permission to jack up the speed.

I didn’t mind the occasional horn. I figured obeying the speed limit was OK. It was legal. After all, I wasn’t making a phone call or sending a text message. I’d even be home in plenty of time to get the ice cream in the freezer before it melted. The interesting thing was that all those cars who went around me only were first in line at the stop light, while I managed to sail through on the green at nearly every intersection.

So, if that’s all it takes to get some private time, I’ll keep watching the speed limit and obey the signs. If that works out, maybe I’ll motor out in the country some evening and see if it’s dark enough to count a few stars.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send email to opinion@tribstar.com.

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