The sounds of silence
Noise is on my mind recently. I’m convinced that we endure too much of it in honor of our existence here on earth.
Sometime it is the raucous chatter of politicians or the screech of advertising pushing aside real words to gain our attention for the mundane. At other times, it may be the scream of fire engines down the street or the roar of the motorcycle taking off.
When this happens too often, we dial down our senses and become numb to our world.
Let me give you an example:
For the past three weeks, city crews have been replacing the sewer lines in front of my house.
And then replacing the water lines and storm drains.
And tearing out the sidewalks with big dozers so that they can be replaced with NEW sidewalks.
When I asked the crew chief how old the sidewalks were they were replacing he replied, “Older than dirt.” I feel a kinship.
Each morning I set the alarm early so that I can dash out and move the car in order for it not to be blocked by the construction. Each day’s construction begins at precisely 7:04am with the beep-beep of yellow machines determined to disintegrate my solitude. Enormous tamper machines vibrate the very foundations of my home.
A blogging friend, Coffee Kat, writes a post about diminished hearing and I can totally relate.
One of my cats hides under the coffee table, seeking asylum from the noise and commotion. The other one sleeps through it all.
Today, though, all was quiet, except for one small bulldozer pushing dirt around aimlessly, like a kid on a playground after everybody goes home. For the first time in weeks, I could hear my refrigerator gurgle. I could catch snippets of my neighbor’s radio playing. A cardinal sang in the tree outside my window. Real sounds, at normal decibel levels. Pure bliss.
Then the noise began again. A man pounded orange stakes in the ground outside my front window to mark where the new sidewalks will be poured. He says the crews will lay the foundations tomorrow, and the cement trucks arrive the day after.
I feel rebellion setting in. I yearn to flee to the tiny Greek island of Budelli, where the caretaker has lived, alone, for 28 years, listening to the sounds of silence. What would that peaceful calm feel like, I wonder?
We need silence in our lives in order to function as human beings. As Wordsworth once wrote,
…Again I hearThese waters, rolling from their mountain-springsWith a soft inland murmur.—Once againDo I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,That on a wild secluded scene impressThoughts of more deep seclusion; and connectThe landscape with the quiet of the sky.