Friday, March 16, 2012


As I became conscious after a satisfying night's sleep, I realized the sound I heard was birds singing -- or calling for mates -- possibly from the still nude forsythia bush just beyond the window. Spring is here although it's still chilly and not yet green outside. A wonderful way to start a day!

Last evening I read an article saying the only truly quiet place in America is in a wilderness in Oregon but that is not silent. The author meant quiet as being without man made sounds. In what he called the "last square inch" of quiet, birdsong mixed with raindrops on leaves, wind rustling leaves, and running water nearby. I believe that is hyperbole, that there are equally quiet places say in the Maine woods, the heart of the Adirondacks, many places in the Rocky Mountains, far from roads, not on airline flight patterns. But hype to make a point is the American way.

My birdsong can be easily canceled by the fans on the forced air blower that heats my apartment. I have lots of other man made noise as do most people: the refrigerator, the people upstairs walking around, water in pipes, my shower and toilet -- and those above me -- and all the appliances, vacuum, dish washer, microwave, telephone, hair drier, etc. Plus nearby is a stop light so I get not only vehicles from intersecting streets but the frequent sirens of police, ambulance and fire department. Happily I have no neighbors who play loud music or television. I have whole days when I don't feel like turning on my radio even though it's set to a classical music station.

The article emphasized how bad the ambient noise is for us both psychically and physiologically. Yes, I believe young people who listen to loud music on earphones [or buds as they now are sized and called] may be doing damage to their hearing. And I believe constant noise interferes with our concentration and serenity. I don't think this is such a new phenomenon although surely motorcycles and sonic booms, sirens and helicopters are more damaging than say the wooden and steel rimmed wheels and metal shoed clip-clop of horses drawing carriages, carts and wagons over cobbled streets in cites of the past. That kind of noise goes back to at least Roman times, maybe even ancient Egyptian times when chariots were first used. We are a noisy species. I find it sad that many, especially young people, seem afraid of quiet. Truly you cannot "hear yourself think" if your mind must mutltitask by filtering out the ambient sounds to make room for your thoughts.

1 comment:


Right now my refrigerator is competing with some bird call outside my kitchen door. It is inevitable that something is always making noise. Of course my noise is nothing compared to city noise. But noise is noise and I don't appreciate it much. -- barbara