I begin this post with respect for my dear friend, Ellen, who was deaf in one ear when I met her and proceeded to go deaf in the other ear as well. I can’t begin to know or understand what it’s like to live in 100% silence 100% of the time, and I send her highest regards for continuing to live her life without cynicism in this hearing world.
As I get older, I find I cannot tolerate cacophony for any length of time. That includes large groups of people, crowded restaurants, loud music (even music I like!). I live alone now, and have done so for more than half of my adult life. Roommates were tolerable because it wasn’t expected of me to be present and in communication regularly.
I shake my head at people who turn on the TV from the moment they wake up and who leave it on until it’s time for bed. I don’t understand that need for background noise. I watch very little TV – the local news is the only time my TV is guaranteed to be on daily. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t “binge watch” shows the way some people do.
And telephone conversations are almost a thing of the past. When I find it necessary to make calls for things like scheduling appointments, etc., I line them up and do them all in the same period of time. I don’t live with my cell phone nearby to respond to any alert of communication, by text, email, social media, etc.
My career required me to be upfront and present, to talk with guests and colleagues as well as make and take phone calls. I remember being so tired from all of the noise around me for those hours that I almost craved silence when I got home.
I also use a fan while I sleep. I enjoy both the movement of air and the single monotonous tone it provides that largely blocks out any other noise that might occur.
Some of you know that idea of ‘if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?’ I wonder if that’s true even in silence. Do the soft snowflakes falling from a gray sky make a sound that we can’t hear? There are videos that support that there is a sound when snow falls, though science dispels it.
Simon and Garfunkel had a popular hit back in the day called, “The Sounds of Silence”. Was the title literal or metaphorical?
Does a ray of sunshine beaming down make a noise we don’t hear; a flower blooming as it unfolds form a bud? Just because we can’t hear it, does that mean that the sound does not exist?
How hard it is for man to accept solace and comfort away from the care of modern life – away from television and subliminal requests for attention that people make upon one another. How hard others work to fill in silence, for fear that silence brings a disquieted sense of foreboding that lurks like dark clouds overhead just before a parade is supposed to start.
How joyful then, is to accept that silence, to sit unhampered by the sound of a world always in motion. It has required me to find a contentedness within me in order to accept the solace of silence. Unlike my friend, Ellen, I have the choice of when to listen to the outer world and when to be in silence. If forced to make a choice between the two, however, I’m pretty certain I’d choose silence.
What about you?