Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Sounds of Silence

Have you noticed just how loud and noisy life is today? We're surrounded by talking, noises from machines, office equipment, traffic, TV, personal audio devices, cell phones, etc. The first thing I do when I get in my car is turn the radio or CD player on. The first thing I do when I get home is turn the TV on. The first thing I do in the morning is turn the TV on.

Some sounds are wanted, such as the laughter of a child, another person saying, "I Love You", or even just "Hello". A ringing phone with someone on the other end saying "You're hired" or "you have a grandchild". These are all wanted.

Sometimes, the noise gets to be too much. I remember many years ago, I used to have a radio on in my office tuned to a station that played high energy music. I started to notice that I was on edge, jumpy, and even somewhat short tempered. I couldn't concentrate. My work didn't necessarily suffer, but my soul did. I tried an experiment and switched to a station that played less strident music and I calmed down. The louder, high energy music was stressing me. It wasn't good for me, especially since I was in a job that could be stressful.

Over the years I've learned that I don't like loud noise of any kind, whether it's music, talking, outside noise, whatever. I don't enjoy concerts where the music is louder than the singer. If I have to yell to be heard, or can't understand what another person is saying, it's too loud. I've heard a couple of TV commercials recently that have music playing behind voice over commentary. The problem is that the music is nearly drowning out the voice. I have no idea what the product or service was since I couldn't hear what the actor was saying.

I don't think I have a hearing problem. When the sound levels are "normal", and there isn't a lot of extraneous noise, I can hear everything just fine. I live alone, with just my dogs and cat, so it's nice to have the TV on to hear another human voice when I'm home. But sometimes, isn't it nice just to sit and hear nothing but your own breathing? I read a blog about that very thing: the need for silence in our lives.

For most of us, it's calming and relaxing to be in silence. It's a time to unwind, to de-stress and to remember just who we are and where we are in our lives. The idea is to just be in the quiet, the silence of the moment.

I'm very lucky that I don't have a lot of noise in my life these days. Once I leave work, most of my stress is gone. But even so, I think I'm going to start taking a few minutes at some time in the evening just to listen to the silence around me.

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