Noise once energized me. Radios, televisions, sound systems, headphones, traffic cacophony, airport pandemonium, subway racket, murmuring crowds, crying babies, barking dogs, roaring lawnmowers, crashing dishes dropped in a restaurant. Background racket provided a sense of belonging and made it impossible to feel alone. Immersion in sound kept me alert and ready for action. Raised in New York, I perceived silence as abnormal and a warning of lurking danger. I accepted sound as a virtual constant. Then I seasoned and appreciate the absence of sound.
I now live in a suburban area isolated from, yet within a mile of, a mall, movies, business offices, a super-large retailer, and a warehouse store. An interstate is less than two miles away. The area is busy, until the people attractors close. I enjoy the lull.
Silence comforts me. There’s nothing better than to be still in absolute quiet and listen for the farthest sound. Once the mall closes, I hear traffic noise, a firecracker or a gun being shot (hopefully it’s hunting season), and car doors slammed as neighbors come and go. Around midnight on weekends, I hear drag racers on the interstate and an occasional siren. Early morning before dawn, a dog barks, an owl hoots, a commercial garbage bin is dropped after it’s emptied, miles away a train whistles. Eventually, if I’m lucky, I hear and feel my breathing and heart beat.
Daytime quiet is a rarity. I’m alerted by the absence of sound. It signals that I should stop what I’m doing, clear my mind, and think. I start with my day–what I’ve done, what I plan to do. Then I get my laptop or paper and pen, and write. Not only is silence comforting, I find it motivating.