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.