At the end of each day my ears fairly buzz with the sounds of the world around me. I feel the noises bouncing around my brain, drowning my thoughts and cluttering up my mind with useless stimuli that serves only to distract me. The hum of electricity generates a noise of its own between my ears, a persistent whining sound, somewhere between the slightly out of tune peal of bells and (for those of you old enough to remember it) that awful sound you used to get on your television when the VCR wasn’t switched on. If I didn’t know how to siphon off all this noise and built up energy I swear I’d go mad. I’d be like Michael Douglas in that film Falling Down when he finally snaps and just goes around killing people. Really I would. Fortunately I’ve got the resources to minimise the effect it all has on me but I often wonder if the bombardment of all this noise does play a part in influencing those who genuinely do go completely crazy.
I seem to spend half my life switching things down or off. I walk into rooms and automatically look for the remote to shut televisions and radios up. I close windows to block out the sounds of children playing or the squawk of some youth’s rock music blaring out from his clapped out banger - the music he plays at full volume with all the windows wound down.... (It’s a wonder I don’t wear my hexing finger out!) As for that man who wakes me up at stupid o clock on a Sunday morning walking up and down the streets singing “Any old irrrrron!” I’m liable to kill him some time soon. And I think you probably know me well enough now to know that I mean that with all sincerity.
Achieving total and blissful silence in the modern world is just about impossible. We use sound to block out sound, sticking headphones on in the hope of blocking out some of the noise that assaults us as we go about our daily lives. We turn up our own music to drown out the sound of other people’s melodies. Turning up the volume has become the way we deal with the world. Its all about becoming the loudest, only those who generate sufficient decibels to win the war of the noise can have any hope of hearing what they want to. And what they want to hear certainly doesn’t appear to be silence.
I sometimes wonder if people actually know how to be quiet any more. Always there is music blaring out, the television on (but not being watched), mobile phones spewing out their tinny little tunes, pointless nattering between people on buses. People no longer know how to be still, untouched by stimuli, peaceful and aware, receptive not to the humdrum of modern life but of something less tangible, a silence beyond the buzz, a world we have forgotten how to listen to.
A friend told me the other day that she is frightened of silence, she cannot bear to be alone with her own thoughts because they turn inward and hurt her. I wonder if the rest of the world feels the same way, if people use sound as a way of avoiding their own thoughts and negating the need to be in tune with who they are and how they respond to the life they are living. Its sad in a way and its a dangerous way to live as the time will undoubtedly come when the noise temporarily and the silence will confront those least equipped to deal with it.
I turn off the noise because secretly I'm not all that enamoured of the real world. I dislike other people (not individuals but people en masse), I dislike having thoughts and images forced into my mind, I dislike having my inner monologues interrupted and broken by the mundanity of unwelcome sounds. I like to live in my own little world where I spend my time listening to my own thoughts. I can't imagine ever wanting to tune out the essence of who I am and choosing to live in a world of distractions.
I personally think the quickest way to a sane and healthy life (and I sure we're all in agreement that the Degu Witch is a shining example of sanity...) is to spend some time tuning out the modern world and learning to be at peace within your own head. If that means switching the tv or radio off occasionally, I advise you do it. Seek out those rare moments of silence and solitude and learn to listen to your own thoughts. The modern world isn't always an easy place to live, but its a much harder place for those who allow the constant buzz of noise to drown out the peace inside their own heads.
Image http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=1383851 (Ayla87)
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