Sunday, August 18, 2013

New silence

I've always been a person who liked sound around the house. (Not noise, but sound.) I would never bring a radio out on a hike or to the beach, but at home I liked to have music or the TV on, except when I was trying to sleep. I lived alone for many years, and I suppose the background sound was a form of company. It was also difficult for me to write in silence; I had to busy some part of my brain with music so that the rest of my brain could work on the story.

This year, I've found myself turning to silence more. Tolerating it, even wanting it. I sit in my writing office and I don't need sound beyond the crickets, the cicadas, the faint voices of neighbors outside, some birdcalls (there's one bird who, I swear, sounds as if he is saying, "Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger!" I don't know what kind of bird he is, so I call him the cheeseburger bird), the rustle of wind, and rain. (We've had plenty of rain this year.)

Coincidentally, my friend Beth Kephart recently wrote this short piece on silence for Psychology Today online. A sample: "Silence may seem a luxury in a noisy world—a throwback, an artifact—but for me it increasingly becomes my rescue raft. It allows me to dig deep and go long, to sort out and restore." It rang a bell of recognition, made me conscious of how I've been turning off, or leaving off, the artificial sound in my writing space.

I don't know if this is permanent or temporary. Writing processes constantly evolve. And earlier today, feeling dull and sleepy on a cloudy Sunday morning, I needed some Beatles music to get me going. But then I turned off the radio. And for now, silence has made my life feel a little less hectic and crowded. It has made me feel a little more as if I'm going at my own pace, rather than rushing to keep up with the world's pace.

6 comments:

  1. Yeah. Sometimes it's so refreshing, especially when things have been really crazy around me. More so when my silence includes the whitenoise of the outdoors.

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    1. It really does give me the sense of slowing down, which I need right now.

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  2. I used to always have the radio on in the car, or when I was home, for company, but since I've had kids silence is such a precious commodity I hardly listen to music any more.

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    1. Silence may be an acquired taste, but once acquired, it's craved.

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  3. Depending on what I'm writing, I like music or complete silence or background noise. Sometimes I don't have a choice when kiddo is around, but I really understand the silence thing!

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    1. Yes, life often chooses our soundtrack for us. :-)

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