The importance of quiet.
It’s been quite a hot and now loud summer for us. During this year’s record breaking heat waves, we went from a huge house with near silent whole house air-conditioning to a downsized domicile with beige and gray boxes spewing cool air from their perches on windowsills. I do not begrudge their constant whirring, because like fans on steroids, they kept us cool. But one morning I realized just how in tune I had become with the mechanical choir of comfort.
On that morning, the constant droning of the air conditioners, we had turned them off because the night before was cooler, was gone. The humming heartbeat of the house, the old furnace which heats our hot water, was resting between tasks. Early morning TV was off because I was tired of listening to the political pot of stew boil and burn. That’s when it happened, that which I have not heard since the power outage of Hurricane Sandy, the comfort of quiet.
We had power, everything simply went still.
It got my attention like someone dropped a book on a hardwood floor, like a door blew shut, like a dog bark at 2 a.m.
The unexpected silence felt strange at first, as if someone had jammed cotton in my ears. But soon it was nice, then wonderful and oddly familiar from another time of less gadgets.
After listening to birds calling to each other in our new backyard and the gentle swish of leaves tickling each other, I was astounded by the symphony of natural sound which was pleasing, not jarring and soothing, not depressing. Silence had never been so filled with sound.
As the member of a generation raised on forced quiet times, because our fuzzy three channel black and white TVs went off air at night and switched back on at 5 a.m. with the Farm Report, I recalled my early years. (We mature types reminisce about that kind of stuff from time to time. It makes us feel right in a world of wrong.)
Our days started with the rustling of newspapers at the breakfast table instead of selected experts and pretties in a box, blaring Chicken Little sky-falling stories accompanied with award winning background music. Now we are instantly informed about the calamities of populations half a world away, with soundtracks, as if they suffer in our own backyard. Actually, communication has shrunk the world, it is our backyard.
Don’t get me wrong, I like being informed, quickly and decisively. The first thing I do when the bottom falls out of another world situation, TV is where I turn, but in this cacophonic world of instant info I think it’s time to recall the reassurance of quiet.
TV isn’t the only mind mangler. Computers, cell phones, kid’s toy tablets and real ones, all kinds of devices we turn on, plug in and hang from our ears, fill our existence like low hanging bass and a treble clouds. So much has been written about the swiftness and ease of information, and the importance of social media and its presence in our lives, I won’t go prattling on because my rattle simply becomes another noise in a world of banging pots.
So it is that on that morning, and now almost every morning, I am going to grasp quiet and hold it tight. Unless it gets hot again and I have to turn ACs back on.
You can make noise by quietly reaching Carolynn at firstname.lastname@example.org