Golden Silence

Sep 18th, 2009 5:36:00am

We have the Stone Age, the Middle Ages, the Bronze Age, and so on and so forth. This age is, though I am probably wrong, considered the Technological Age. Personally, I think it should be referred to as the Age of Noise.

We live in a time where there is always some sound or the other playing in the background. Whether it’s the tap-tap-tapping of one’s keyboard or the hum of the air conditioner, the rushing of cars driving by outside or music blasting inside, there’s always something. I believe very few people nowadays know what real, proper silence is. After all, there are few places in the world nowadays where there is such a silence; one so penetrating, the only things you can hear are your breathing and the steady beating of your heart. However, in my opinion we need that kind of quietude sometimes. We are so surrounded by clamour that our thoughts are drowned out, or more accurately, repressed, distracted with the noise of this and that. What would it be like, not having so much buzzing in our ears?

I had the opportunity to have this question answered slightly less than a week ago, and it was in fact the inspiration for this column. Life got in the way, hence the lateness, but I digress. As I was saying, last week we were faced with a power outage. I was asleep at the time, but upon hearing the sudden “zing” of the electricity disappearing into nothingness I was startled into wakefulness. The first thing I noticed was the quiet. No CD playing, no humming of the air conditioner, and none of that hidden noise associated with electricity running through the walls of our building. It was like all the energy had been sucked out, leaving only silence.

At first, this newfound hush was oppressing, pushing itself against my unaccustomed ears. But then, as I started getting used to it, I rather liked it. It was this lovely feeling of calm that washed over me. Sounds that were normally nothing compared to the other noise we had going on were amplified ten times, making me realise just how loud they were. The legs of my loose jeans brushing against each other as I walked, my footsteps on the tiles, these were all things I would not have thought anything of in usual circumstances, but was forced to pay attention to. It was like my hearing had zoned in on whatever sound it could find. It made me realise just how much noise is in our lives.

When the power came back on, I was both disappointed and relieved; after all, four hours without air conditioning in the middle of a blistering hot afternoon is not exactly comfortable. I did, however, miss the silence. The contrast was almost staggering. Its memory was quite fresh in my mind, and I found I could think clearly the entire day. Amazing what a little bit of peace can do, isn’t it?

So, next time you think it’s just too quiet, avoid turning on the TV or turning up the music. Instead, listen.

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