Friday, November 19, 2010

Starting with Silence


The buzz of an office is unbearable at times. It’s not just your voice or your chipper co-worker who shares the space next to you and discusses statistics and broker satisfaction surveys all day long (I kid Lori, I kid). But there's e-mail and music and phone calls and conference calls and YouTube and Facebook and texting 24 hours a day and the beeping from your handheld while your child is asking about puppies and ice cream and movies and PlayStation… It’s constant. A constant buzz.

I could go on for months talking about the noise that permeates our lives.

Why is silence so rare? Have the roles been reversed? Do we now have to create periods of silence instead of creating periods of noise?

Silence seems so arbitrary, so pure, and so extinct all at the same time. While I was driving back from the beach one Sunday this past summer I had an urge to turn off my music. Music is a constant for me. I be-bop to a steady stream of music everywhere I go. I find a song for everything I do – curling my hair, driving to work, designing a flyer, grocery shopping, running, going to sleep. 

My hand took the dial to zero and I just listened to the wind that was fluttering through my sun roof and tossing my blonde hair in a mad disarray across my face. It was a mad hair entanglement which only wind can create. It was perfect. It was silent. And in that moment I couldn't help but appreciate the lack of noise. It was as if something had been freed and I was now allowed to listen again. Truly listen, to things that matter most. Only my thoughts, or lack there of, in those remaining seconds as I exited the highway. 

The noise rules our lives. Babies cry when they're hungry. You laugh when you're happy. We communicate through language and sound. Music is an artistic form of expression that is blasted from radio stations, TV, and handheld devices. We've created artificial sounds and magnified organic sounds. But the truth is, when all I hear is silence, I feel more alive. I notice things that I couldn’t before. My mind works in ways that it didn’t when I was skipping around cooking and cleaning to Nikki & Rich.

My point is that if you need a 30-second break. If you want to enjoy the things around you or you have an important decision to make. I recommend starting with silence.

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