Unlike David Byrne, I was not “Born in a house with the television always on”. However, I am now beginning to realise just how noisy my life has been until now. Growing up there was always plenty of noise, either from me and my brother, traffic, other kids or just the usual sound of an active family home. College, of course was an aural assault course with at least half a dozen stereo systems blasting out from various dorm rooms at all hours of the day and night. Of course, kids put an end to any peace and quiet we might have had earlier in our married life, although I must admit that the old house was pretty darn quiet. On our first night in the old house it was darker and quieter with no blinds and the windows open than we could ever have imagined in our previous home.
For the past couple of years my day began with the sound of my son downstairs making his breakfast, emptying the dishwasher or just generally organising the start of his day. Even at the weekends any hope of a lie in vanished by 7am as both kids played in the living room, ran up or down stairs and pretty much acted like kids.
Now, I find myself in a very different situation. At first I plugged in the iPod or turned on NPR in the morning as a start to the day and now only two weeks later I listen to the news during breakfast and then turn off the radio for the rest of the day. I had thought that I would miss having something in the background, but no. I am luxuriating in the lack of sound. Yesterday I sat on the couch reading and the only sounds were that of rain on the roof, like someone tapping their fingers gently on a wooden table and the soft gurgling as the rain trickled down the downspouts. Add to that the low hum of the refrigerator and you have the sum total of my aural experience for over two hours.
I’m beginning to realise just how much of a distraction sound is, how much energy it drains from me on a daily basis and how much happier I am now that I have the opportunity to focus inwardly rather than keeping a weather ear open for every sound from the phone to the garage door to a request for snacks. I’m no hermit, but sometimes it’s so rejuvenating to hear nothing but the sound of ones’ own thoughts.