Listening to the Sound of silence
Every time I get into my car, I fall into the same dumb trap. I turn on the radio. Sometimes, I’ll get smart and listen to a tape or a CD but usually I’ll tune in to music on the radio or to a talk show. In either case, I’ve let my brain be invaded by sounds coming from outside. I don’t think I am unusual in this regard. We have allowed our minds to be inundated by the floodwaters of NOISE.
What’s that about? Why is it that the only noise we can’t seem to deal with is the sound of silence? I know people who turn their television set on the minute they step into their house and leave it on until they go to bed at night. They don’t necessarily listen to the mindless chatter emanating from the tube. Often, they are hardly aware that the set is even on. The TV is like a security blanket. As long as their television is blaring, they somehow feel less alone.
I’m not that bad, I say to myself. I don’t have the tube on ALL of the time. Yea, but the tube is still a significant presence in my life. Like most males, I find myself hopelessly addicted to the sport of channel surfing. Good grief! Is there anything more pathetic than an intelligent man, eyes glazed over, snapping the remote with the speed of light?
For centuries human kind lived in a world free of radios, TV, car traffic, telephones, loud music. We heard only the sounds of earth, human voices, the singing of birds, the bleating of sheep, the primitive sounds of drums and music, sounds not “enhanced” (if that’s the word) by modern technology.
Well, those days are long gone. Like it or not, our sense of hearing is under siege. The more important question is how can we avoid being so distracted by the sounds outside of us that we lose touch with our own souls. Make no mistake. That constant hum of television or radio or cell phone conversations can cushion us for a time from life’s troubles, but at what a cost?
Stressed out by your kid’s behavior? Well, you can deal with it after you’ve watched the latest segment of Desperate Housewives. Feeling lonesome? You could get out and do some volunteer work or see a counselor. But it’s easier to escape to one of the Survivor episodes on television. Have some quiet time while you’re commuting to work? You could use the time to figure out some actions you might take to improve your relationship with your spouse or you can listen to the diatribe of a talk show host.
Much of the noise that surrounds us is simply a part of modern life. We can’t avoid it.
Even if we wanted to, we can’t return to a pace of life that existed a century or so back in time. But I do think we would profit by at least making friends with the stillness. We don’t have to bombard ourselves with noise every waking moment do we?
We live in a more complex world than our parents or grandparents did. Sometimes, the last thing we want to do is face that complexity. The tendency is to turn up the music or the television, but that is counter productive in the long run. What we need is to give ourselves the gift of some quiet time every day so we don’t forget who we are and why we are living. There are times in life when the only sound that will really help is the sound of silence.