Most of us crave a reprieve from the everyday hustle and bustle of modern life. We yearn for the elusive moments of silence, but for me–and this may sound weird—I sometimes prefer noise.
If you visit my house on any given day, you’ll hear the chatter of TV, strains from an electric guitar, or the pounding of my teen son playing Dance Dance Revolution. I believe that our modern lives make us dependent on the noise that surrounds us and we become deaf to our inner thoughts. The noise becomes a pacifier that lulls us into avoiding dilemmas we must face.
Whenever there’s a power outage at my house, I’m struck by the lack of noise. There’s no bass booming from a sound system, and no doors slamming; there’s not even the familiar hum–the so-called “white noise”– of the refrigerator. I’ve often wondered why some noises are called “white.” Does that imply these particular noises are somehow innocuous? I’ve grown dependent on the noise that clutters my mind.
When the power outage first occurs, the silence is, ironically, disquieting. And since I live in the country, the silence is quite profound, and heavy. It fills every inch of the room and is impossible to ignore.
If the power outage lasts for more than a few minutes, I begin to wonder what I’m going to do to pass the time. I’m used to the noise always being there to keep me occupied. As a habit, even if there is nothing on TV, I’ll keep it on anyway, just for company. The noise, “white” or not, becomes a distraction—a way to escape some unpleasant issues in my life.
Eventually I do yield to the silence, and I allow myself to think of the things in my life that are uncomfortable–issues for which I don’t have a ready answer. Sometimes, I’m able to grapple with those difficult issues, and even make a few decisions, but at the very least, I succeed in facing my problems straight in the eye. The silence enables me to take an honest look at my life and all its jagged edges, and to notice too the areas of my life that bring me joy. These are thoughts unfiltered by the yammering, jabbering, and buzzing of modern life. After these moments of silence, if I’m lucky all that’s left to worry about is the drip-drip of thawing groceries.
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